Background: Robotic systems recently have been introduced to overcome technical limitations of conventional laparoscopic surgery, especially for complex procedures. Laparoscopic spleen-preserving total gastrectomy with D2 lymph node (LN) dissection (LTGD2) is one of the most complicated procedures. We hypothesized that robotic LN dissection would be more thorough and accurate. We compared robotic spleen-preserving total gastrectomy with D2 LN dissection (RTGD2) with LTGD2 to investigate the impact of robotics. Methods: Clinicopathologic characteristics and short-term and long-term outcomes of RTGD2 (n = 51) versus LTGD2 (n = 58) in gastric adenocarcinoma patients were extracted from a prospectively designed database and analyzed retrospectively. Results: There was no difference of patients' characteristics between groups. Mean operation time of RTGD2 was longer than LTGD2 (p < 0.001), and no differences in tumor histology, size, location, and TNM stage were seen. Total retrieved LNs from RTGD2 was similar to LTGD2 (mean 47.2 vs. 42.8, respectively), as were retrieved LNs at splenic hilum (1.3 vs. 0.8). However, mean numbers of retrieved LNs along the splenic artery from RTGD2 was higher than LTGD2 (2.3 vs. 1.0, respectively; p = 0.013), as was also the case at the splenic hilum and artery (3.6 vs. 1.9, p = 0.014). Postoperative complication (16 vs. 22 %, p = 0.374) and overall and disease-free survival between the two groups were not significantly different (p = 0.767 and p = 0.666, respectively). Conclusions: Robotic spleen-preserving total gastrectomy with D2 LN dissection is feasible. Operation time and retrieved total LNs and splenic hilar LNs in the robotic procedure are acceptable.
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