, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 415-421
Date: 21 Dec 2010

Laparoscopic-assisted versus open surgery for rectal cancer: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on oncologic adequacy of resection and long-term oncologic outcomes

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Whether laparoscopic-assisted surgery (LS) can achieve the same oncologic outcomes compared with open surgery (OS) for rectal cancer remains controversial. The aim of this meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is to compare oncologic adequacy of resection and long-term oncologic outcomes of LS with OS in the treatment of rectal cancer.


Literature searches of electronic databases (Pubmed, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library) and manual searches were performed to identify RCTs comparing values of oncologic adequacy of resection, recurrence, and survival following LS and OS.


Six RCTs enrolling 1,033 participants were included in the meta-analysis. LS was associated with similar number of lymph nodes harvested and a similar distal tumor-free margin. LS was associated with a slightly high circumferential resection margin (CRM) positive rate with no significant difference (7.94% vs. 5.37%; risk ratio [RR], 1.13; P = 0.63). There was no significant difference between the two groups in local recurrence (RR, 0.55; P = 0.21). The 3-year overall survival advantage for LS over OS was not statistically significantly different (hazard ratio [HR], 0.76; P = 0.11). The 3-year disease-free survival was not significantly different between the two groups (HR, 1.16; P = 0.64).


The meta-analysis suggests that there are no differences between laparoscopic-assisted and open surgery in terms of number of lymph nodes harvested, involvement of CRM, local recurrence, 3-year overall survival, and disease-free survival for rectal cancer. However, more high-quality studies are needed for further analysis due to the small number of included studies.

Mei-Jin Huang and Jing-Lin Liang contributed equally to this paper.