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Robotic surgery offers favorable prerequisites for complex minimally invasive surgeries which are delivered by higher degrees of freedom, improved instrument stability, and a perfect visualization in 3D which is fully surgeon controlled. In this article we aim to assess its impact on complete mesocolic excision (CME) in colon cancer and to answer the question of whether the current evidence expresses a need for robotic surgery for this indication.
Retrospective analysis and review of the current literature on complete mesocolic excision for colon cancer comparing the outcome after open, laparoscopic, and robotic approaches.
Complete mesocolic excision results in improved disease-free survival and reduced local recurrence, but turns out to be complex and prone to complications. Introduced in open surgery, the transfer to minimally invasive surgery resulted in comparable results, however, with high conversion rates. In comparison, robotic surgery shows a reduced conversion rate and a tendency toward higher lymph node yield. Data, however, are insufficient and no high-quality studies have been published to date. Almost no oncologic follow-up data are available in the literature.
The current data do not allow for a reliable conclusion on the need of robotic surgery for CME, but show results which hypothesize an equivalence if not superiority to laparoscopy. Due to recently published technical improvements for robotic CME and supplementary features of this method, we suppose that this approach will gain in importance in the future.