Robotic colorectal surgery: summary of the current evidence

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BACKGROUND: Several studies have confirmed that laparoscopic colorectal surgery results in improved early post-operative outcomes. Nevertheless, conventional laparoscopic approach and instruments have several limitations. Robotic approach could potentially address of many of these limitations.

OBJECTIVES: This review aims to present a summary of the current evidence on the role of robotic colorectal surgery.

METHODS: A comprehensive search of electronic databases (Pubmed, Science Direct and Google scholar) using the key words "rectal surgery", "laparoscopic", "colonic" and "robotic." Evidence from these data was critically analysed and summarised to produce this article.

RESULTS: Robotic colorectal surgery is both safe and feasible. However, it has no clear advantages over standard laparoscopic colorectal surgery in terms of early postoperative outcomes or complications profile. It has shorter learning curve but increased operative time and cost. It could offer potential advantage in resection of rectal cancer as it has a lower conversion rates even in obese individuals, distal rectal tumours and patients who had preoperative chemoradiotherpy. There is also a trend towards better outcome in anastomotic leak rates, circumferential margin positivity and perseveration of autonomic function, but there was no clear statistical significance to support this from the currently available data.

CONCLUSION: The use of robotic approach seems to be capable of addressing most of the shortcomings of the standard laparoscopic surgery. The technique has proved its safety profile in both colonic and rectal surgery. However, the cost involved may restrict its use to patients with challenging rectal cancer and in specialist centres.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Colorectal Disease
Issue number1
Early online date1 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colorectal Surgery
  • Humans
  • Learning Curve
  • Organ Sparing Treatments
  • Robotics
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Journal Article
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review


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