Radical resection with autonomic nerve preservation and lymph node dissection techniques in lower rectal cancer surgery and its results: the impact of lateral lymph node dissection
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Lateral lymph node metastases occur in 9% of rectal cancer patients. For cancers localized in the lower rectum below peritoneal reflection, the frequency increases to 13% of all cases and to 25.5% in those of Dukes' stage C. The most important technique in colorectal surgery for decreasing local failure in the pelvis is lateral lymph node dissection. Today, however, it is also regarded as crucial that with perfect lymph node dissection of the lateral area outside of the pelvic plexus, the postoperative functions of urination and sexual ability are preserved. Since 1988 we have performed autonomic nerve-preserving curative resection (ANP) with lateral dissection in most patients with advanced lower rectal cancer. The mean 5-year survival rate of patients with lateral lymph node metastasis from the lower rectum was 37.5%, improving from 32.1% to 43.4% during this period. In cases of ANP with lateral dissection the local recurrence rate was 4.8% overall and 7.4% in the Dukes' C group. Postoperative urinary function has been good or fair in all ANP patients. Sexual function remained problematic, especially regarding male ejaculation. We describe our method for preserving the autonomic nervous system in the pelvis and for achieving complete dissection in the lateral area.
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