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Abstract

Background:

No long-term advantage of the laparoscopic approach has been demonstrated in colorectal surgery. This study compared the risk of incisional hernia between laparoscopic and open surgery for rectal cancer.

Methods:

Between 1994 and 2004, patients who had restorative mesorectal excision for rectal cancer by laparoscopy were compared with those treated by open surgery. Follow-up was prospective, and incisional hernia was considered to be any abdominal wound dehiscence occurring at the midline, extraction, trocar or ileostomy site. Cumulative risks of hernia were evaluated by the Kaplan–Meier method and compared with the log rank test.

Results:

Some 155 patients had a laparoscopic and 165 an open procedure. The two groups were similar in terms of age, sex, body mass index, tumour stage, loop ileostomy and morbidity. The conversion rate was 20·6 per cent. The rate of incisional hernia in all patients was 11·4 per cent at 1 year, 21·1 per cent at 2 years and 23·7 per cent at 5 years. The rate of hernia at 5 years was significantly lower in the laparoscopic than in the open group (13·0 versus 33·0 per cent; P < 0·001). The rate of hernia due specifically to the laparoscopic procedure (extraction and trocar sites) was ten times less than that after a primary or secondary open procedure (2·1 versus 16·1–33·1 per cent; P < 0·001).

Conclusion:

The laparoscopic approach decreases the risk of long-term incisional hernia following restorative mesorectal excision for rectal cancer. The benefit is most apparent in patients without conversion or postoperative complication. Copyright © 2008 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.