• Splenic flexure mobilization;
  • lateral approach;
  • low anterior resection



The aim of this retrospective study of laparoscopic low anterior resection was to compare splenic flexure mobilization (SFM) carried out by an extended medial to lateral approach with that by a lateral approach.


Records of patients with rectal cancer on a prospectively maintained database undergoing laparoscopic low anterior resection performed between January 2009 and November 2011 by a single surgeon were analysed. The extended medial to lateral approach involved continuing the medial to lateral approach upwards to enter the lesser sac over the pancreas, thus permitting detachment of the splenic flexure.


Two hundred and thirty-seven patients, including 164 undergoing a lateral SFM and 73 an extended medial to lateral SFM, were evaluated. Both patient groups had similar characteristics except for operative time (152.7 ± 32.7 min extended medial to lateral; 171.5 ± 40.8 min lateral; < 0.001), postoperatively the interval to oral intake (3.1 ± 0.8 days extended medial to lateral; 3.7 ± 0.9 lateral; < 0.001) and duration of hospital stay (8.2 ± 2.8 days extended medial to lateral; 10.3 ± 7.5 days lateral; = 0.002) favoured the extended medial to lateral group.


An extended medial to lateral approach for SFM during laparoscopic low anterior resection of rectal cancer appears to be an improvement over the previously used lateral approach, because it may provide a shorter operation time and shorter hospital stay.