Objective Several large randomized controlled trials on laparoscopic resection for colon and rectosigmoid cancer have recently been published. There is a need to provide an up-to-date systematic review in this subject.
Methods A literature search of all published randomized trials in English between January 1991 and September 2005 was obtained, from Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and All EBM Reviews (Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trial, Cochrane Database of Systemic Review, and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects), including e-links to the related articles. Two independent assessors reviewed the trials using a standardized protocol. Where means and standard deviations were available, meta-analysis was performed using the Forest plot review. Studies where medians and ranges were presented were separately analysed.
Results A total of 17 randomized controlled trials with 4013 procedures were reviewed. The conversion rate varied widely between studies and was lowest in single-Centre trials. There were no significant differences in overall and surgical complication rate, anastomotic leak rate, re-operation rate and oncological clearance. However, laparoscopic resection has a significantly lower peri-operative mortality (odds ratio 0.33; P = 0.005), lower wound complications (odds ratio 0.65; P = 0.01), less blood loss (weighted mean difference 0.11 l; P < 0.00001) and reduced postoperative pain scores by 12.6% with reduction of requirements for narcotic analgesia by 30.7%. After laparoscopic surgery, patients passed flatus 38.8% earlier (weighted mean difference 27.6 h; P < 0.00001) and had bowel movement 21.0% earlier (weighted mean difference 23.9 h; P < 0.00001) and resumed oral diet 28.3% sooner than patients in the open group (weighted mean difference 27.3 h; P < 0.00001). Patients were discharged 19.1% earlier after laparoscopic surgery than open surgery (weighted mean difference 1.7 days; P < 0.00001). Laparoscopic resection took 28.7% longer (weighted mean difference 40.1 min; P < 0.00001) to perform.
Conclusions Laparoscopic resection for colon and rectosigmoid cancer is feasible, safe and has many short-term benefits.