Background: The aim of this study was to identify the benefits of robotic transanal specimen extraction (RTSE) compared with minilaparotomy specimen extraction (MSE). Methods: Patients who underwent totally robotic surgery with curative intent for treatment of adenocarcinoma of the rectum below 12 cm from the anal verge were selected from the authors' database. Patients were divided into RTSE and MSE groups according to the method of specimen delivery. Clinicopathological features and perioperative surgical outcomes were compared between the two groups. Results: There were 53 patients in the RTSE group and 66 in the MSE group. No differences were observed in overall complications. Postoperative recovery was faster in the RTSE group in terms of resumption of a soft diet (mean(s.d.) 3·5(1·5) versus 4·6(1·7) days; P < 0·001) and length of hospital stay (9·0(4·8) versus 11·3(5·3) days; P = 0·016). Pain scores on a visual analogue scale were significantly lower in the RTSE group than in the MSE group from day 2 to day 5 after surgery (P = 0·021 to P < 0·001). Conclusion: RTSE in robotic rectal cancer surgery was associated with less pain and a faster recovery than MSE.
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