Robotic low anterior resection: how to maximise success in difficult surgery
Minimally invasive laparoscopic low or ultra-low anterior resection may present as a complex, technically difficult challenge to even the most experienced of colorectal surgeons. This is because, within the narrow confines of the pelvis, there is usually limited visibility, and difficult manoeuvrability of rigid laparoscopic instrumentation with resulting poor access. The utilisation of robotic technology makes sense within the narrow confines of the pelvis. Several studies including recent meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials and propensity-score-matched cohorts have shown reduced rates of conversion to open. Some studies have also shown benefits including improved short-term outcomes and oncological benefits. However, robotic ultra-low anterior resection has a steep learning curve and many of the benefits of robotic surgery have not been fully realised, because the majority of surgeons are in the early phase of the learning curve. This 'How I do It' article provides a detailed description of the important technical points that may help in maximising success in performing robotically assisted laparoscopic ultra-low anterior resection.