Original Article

Surgery Today

, Volume 39, Issue 8, pp 663-668

First online:

Volume-outcome relationship in rectal cancer surgery: A new perspective

  • Hideo YasunagaAffiliated withDepartment of Health Management and Policy, University of Tokyo
  • , Yutaka MatsuyamaAffiliated withDepartment of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Tokyo
  • , Kazuhiko OheAffiliated withDepartment of Medical Informatics and Economics, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo
  • , Japan Surgical Society

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Numerous studies on the volume-outcome relationships in rectal cancer surgery have assessed surgical mortality. However, little is known about the association between hospital/surgeon volumes and postoperative complications, including anastomotic leakage and infection, following rectal cancer surgery.


Using a web-based patient registration system, data were collected on inpatients who underwent rectal cancer surgery between November 1, 2006 and February 28, 2007 in Japan. Using multivariate analyses, intraoperative blood loss, postoperative complications and length of stay were independently compared against the provider volumes and covariates.


No significant association was identified between the blood loss and hospital volume, while surgeons with the highest volume (≥500 procedures) were likely to demonstrate a reduced blood loss (odds ratio, 0.67; 95% confidence interval, 0.46–0.99; P = 0.043). No significant relationship was found between the incidence of postoperative complications and the provider volume. A higher hospital volume significantly decreased the length of stay (hazard ratio, 1.41; 95% confidence interval, 1.23–1.62; P < 0.01), but the surgeon volume was not associated with the length of hospital stay.


The present study did not find any significant relationship between the volume and postoperative complications. These results do not support the effectiveness of regionalizing rectal cancer surgery to high-volume centers, at least in the Japanese clinical setting.

Key words

Rectal cancer Hospital volume Surgeon volume Volume-outcome relationship