As robotic surgery was developed with ergonomic designs, there are expectations that the technical advantages of robotic surgery can shorten the learning curve. However, there is no comparative study, so far, to evaluate the learning curve between robotic and laparoscopic rectal cancer surgeries. Therefore, the aim of this study is to compare the learning curve of robotic low anterior resection (LAR) with laparoscopic LAR for rectal cancer.
Patients who underwent robotic or laparoscopic LAR by a single surgeon were compared retrospectively (robot n=89 vs laparoscopy n=89). Cumulative sum (CUSUM) was used to evaluate the learning curve. The patients were divided into phase 1 (initial learning curve period) and phase 2 (post-learning curve period). The perioperative clinicopathologic characteristics were compared by phases and surgical procedures.
According to CUSUM, the learning curve of robotic LAR was the 44th case and laparoscopic LAR was the 41st case. The learning phases were divided as follows: phase 1 (cases 1-41) versus phase 2 (cases 42-89) in the laparoscopic group, and phase 1 (cases 1-44) versus phase 2 (cases 45-89) in the robotic group. Comparison between phase 1 and phase 2 in each type of surgery showed no significant difference for the perioperative outcomes. Comparison between robotic and laparoscopic surgeries in each phase showed similar perioperative results. Pathologic outcomes were not significantly different in both procedures and phases.
The learning curve of robotic LAR for rectal cancer was similar to laparoscopic LAR, and the clinicopathologic outcomes were similar in both the procedures.
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