Background: Following several landmark trials, laparoscopic rectal resection has reached standard clinical practice. Current literature is undecided on the advantages of robotic rectal resection and little is known on its learning curve. This study aimed to compare the outcomes of the first 100 robotic rectal resections to the laparoscopic approach in a teaching hospital experienced in laparoscopic colorectal surgery. Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted of a prospective cohort of all consecutive rectal resections between January 2012 and September 2019 at a single center. All laparoscopic cases were compared to the robotic approach. Outcomes included operative time, morbidity, anastomotic leakage, and hospital stay. Results: Out of the 326 consecutive resections, 100 were performed robotically and 220 laparoscopically, the remaining 6 open cases were excluded. Median operative time was lower for robotic cases (147 (121–167) versus 162 (120–218) minutes P = 0.024). Overall morbidity was lower in robotic cases (25% versus 50%, P < 0.001), while major morbidity was similar. Anastomotic leakage was observed in 11% (8/70) of robotic and 15% (18/120) of laparoscopic anastomoses, despite more anastomoses in the robotic group (70%, 70/100 versus 55%, 120/220, P = 0.001). Median length of stay was 4 (4–7) days after a robotic and 6 (5–9) days after a laparoscopic procedure. Discussion: Implementation of a robotic rectal resection program in an experienced laparoscopic surgery center was associated with reduced operative time, length of stay, and fewer complications despite a learning curve.

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Keywords Rectal cancer, Rectal resection, Robot-assisted surgery, Robotic
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Journal Surgical Endoscopy: surgical and interventional techniques
Olthof, P.B. (Pim B.), Giesen, L.J.X, Vijfvinkel, T.S. (Teddy S.), Roos, D. (Daphne), & Dekker, J.W.T. (2020). Transition from laparoscopic to robotic rectal resection: outcomes and learning curve of the initial 100 cases. Surgical Endoscopy: surgical and interventional techniques. doi:10.1007/s00464-020-07731-0