Robotic colorectal surgery: previous laparoscopic colorectal experience is not essential.
A background in minimally invasive colorectal surgery (MICS) has been thought to be essential prior to robotic-assisted colorectal surgery (RACS). Our aim was to determine whether MICS is essential prior to starting RACS training based on results from our initial experience with RACS. Two surgeons from our centre received robotic training through the European Academy of Robotic Colorectal Surgery (EARCS). One surgeon had no prior formal MICS training. We reviewed the first 30 consecutive robotic colorectal procedures from a prospectively maintained database between November 2014 and January 2016 at our institution. Fourteen patients were male. Median age was 64.5 years (range 36-82) and BMI was 27.5 (range 20-32.5). Twelve procedures (40%) were performed by the non-MICS-trained surgeon: ten high anterior resections (one conversion), one low anterior resection and one abdomino-perineal resection of rectum (APER). The MICS-trained surgeon performed nine high and four low anterior resections, one APER and in addition three right hemicolectomies and one abdominal suture rectopexy. There were no intra-operative complications and two patients required re-operation. Median post-operative stay was five days (range 1-26). There were two 30-day re-admissions. All oncological resections had clear margins and median node harvest was 18 (range 9-39). Our case series demonstrates that a background in MICS is not essential prior to starting RACS training. Not having prior MICS training should not discourage surgeons from considering applying for a robotic training programme. Safe and successful robotic colorectal services can be established after completing a formal structured robotic training programme.
Al Chalabi, Hasan