The conventional laparoscopic approach to rectal surgery has several limitations, and therefore many colorectal surgeons have great expectations for the robotic surgical system as an alternative modality in overcoming challenges of laparoscopic surgery and thus enhancing oncologic and functional outcomes. This review explores the possibility of robotic surgery as an alternative approach in laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer. The da Vinci® Surgical System was developed specifically to compensate for the technical limitations of laparoscopic instruments in rectal surgery. The robotic rectal surgery is associated with comparable or better oncologic and pathologic outcomes, as well as low morbidity and mortality. The robotic surgery is generally easier to learn than laparoscopic surgery, improving the probability of autonomic nerve preservation and genitourinary function recovery. Furthermore, in very complex procedures such as intersphincteric dissections and transabdominal transections of the levator muscle, the robotic approach is associated with increased performance and safety compared to laparoscopic surgery. The robotic surgery for rectal cancer is an advanced technique that may resolve the issues associated with laparoscopic surgery. However, high cost of robotic surgery must be addressed before it can become the new standard treatment.
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