Background: Transanal total mesorectal excision (TaTME) is the most recent approach developed to improve pelvic dissection in surgery for mid and low rectal tumors. There are still inconsistencies regarding the technique’s oncological results. The aim of this study was to analyze clinical and oncological outcomes of the learning curve of TaTME in comparison to laparoscopic TME (lapTME). Methods: Rectal cancer patients who had TaTME and lapTME in two Portuguese colorectal units between March 2016 and December 2018 were eligible. Primary endpoints were 5-year overall survival, disease-free survival, and local recurrence. Secondary endpoints were clinical and pathological outcomes. Results: Forty-four patients underwent TaTME (29 men) and 39 lapTME (27 men) with a median age of 69 and 66 (p = 0.093), respectively. No differences were observed concerning baseline characteristics, emphasizing their comparability. In the TaTME group, there were more hand-sewn anastomosis (0 lapTME versus 7 TaTME, p = 0.018) with significantly less distance to the dentate line (40 mm lapTME versus 20 mm TaTME, p = 0.005) and significantly more loop ileostomies performed (28 lapTME versus 41 TaTME, p = 0.001). There were no differences in post-operative mortality, morbidity, readmissions, and stoma closure. Groups were similar in relation to specimen quality, margins, and resectability; however, TaTME had a significantly higher node yield (14 lapTME versus 20 TaTME, p = 0.002). Finally, no disparities were noted in oncological outcomes, namely local and distant recurrence, 5-year overall survival, and disease-free survival. Conclusions: Even with the disadvantage of the learning curve of a new technique, TaTME appears to be comparable to lapTME, with similar long-term oncological outcomes. It has, however, a demanding learning curve, significant risk for morbidity and should be used only for selected patients.
- Oncological outcomes
- Rectal cancer