The Impact of Conversion to Laparotomy in Rectal Cancer: A National Cancer Database Analysis of 57574 Patients

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American Surgeon








Rectal cancer


© The Author(s) 2020 Background: Data regarding the effect of conversion from minimally invasive surgery (MIS) to laparotomy in rectal cancer is limited. This study examines the impact of conversion from laparoscopic or robotic-assisted techniques to open resection on oncologic outcomes in a large population database. Methods: The National Cancer Database from 2010 to 2016 was reviewed for all cases of invasive adenocarcinoma of the rectum or rectosigmoid junction managed surgically. Patients were divided into 3 cohorts by approach: laparoscopic/robotic (MIS), converted proctectomy (CP), and open proctectomy (OP). Kaplan–Meier estimation was used for unadjusted survival analysis, followed by adjusted multivariable Cox-Proportional Hazards regression. Secondary outcomes were analyzed by multivariable logistic regression. Results: The inclusion criteria identified 57 574 patients cases of adenocarcinoma of the rectum managed surgically. Of these patients, 23 579 (41.0%) underwent MIS, 3591 (6.2%) CP, and 30 404 (52.8%) OP. Five-year overall survival was greater in the MIS (70.4%) versus CP and OP (64.4% and 61.4%). No differences were detected for positive margins, 30-day, or 90-day mortality between CP and OP. MIS and CP approaches were significantly associated with increased odds of 12 or more regional lymph nodes examined and decreased overall mortality hazard compared with OP (all respective significant P < .05). Discussion: While similar odds of positive margins and short-term mortality is seen in patients whose procedure converts to laparotomy compared with planned laparotomy, both short-term and long-term oncologic benefit is seen in those who undergo a minimally invasive approach. Thus, a minimally invasive approach should be attempted for patients with rectal cancer.

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