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Br J Surg. 1997 May;84(5):652-6.

Evaluation of a policy of total mesorectal excision for rectal and rectosigmoid cancers.

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Department of General Surgery, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, UK.



Total mesorectal excision (TME) is advocated for rectal cancer but the indications and extent of resection vary widely between surgeons.


Seventy-six consecutive patients (61 elective, 15 acute admission) with rectal or rectosigmoid cancer were admitted to a unit where TME was the preferred surgical option for potentially curative cancer at all levels of the rectum.


Procedures undertaken were anterior resection (38 patients), abdominoperineal resection (18), Hartmann's procedure (ten) and transanal excision (one). Six patients had proximal faecal diversion alone and surgery was withheld in three. Anastomotic leaks occurred in six of 37 patients who had anterior resection with primary anastomosis, resulting in one early death. The presence of a proximal stoma did not influence the rate or seriousness of anastomotic dehiscence. After potentially curative TME in 45 patients, there have been eight local recurrences, four associated with systemic metastases and four which occurred in isolation (median follow-up 34 months).


Curative TME was deemed appropriate in 59 per cent of unselected patients with rectal cancer. It was associated with few local recurrences but a morbidity rate that questions its role in treatment of upper third tumours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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