INTRODUCTION: Transanal total mesorectal excision (TaTME) has rapidly emerged as a novel approach for rectal cancer surgery. Safety profiles are still emerging and more comparative data is urgently needed. This study aimed to compare indications and short-term outcomes of TaTME, open, laparoscopic, and robotic TME internationally.
METHODS: A pre-planned analysis of the European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP) 2017 audit was performed. Patients undergoing elective total mesorectal excision (TME) for malignancy between 1 January 2017 and 15 March 2017 by any operative approach were included. The primary outcome measure was anastomotic leak.
RESULTS: Of 2579 included patients, 76.2% (1966/2579) underwent TME with restorative anastomosis of which 19.9% (312/1966) had a minimally invasive approach (laparoscopic or robotic) which included a transanal component (TaTME). Overall, 9.0% (175/1951, 15 missing outcome data) of patients suffered an anastomotic leak. On univariate analysis both laparoscopic TaTME (OR 1.61, 1.02-2.48, P = 0.04) and robotic TaTME (OR 3.05, 1.10-7.34, P = 0.02) were associated with a higher risk of anastomotic leak than non-transanal laparoscopic TME. However this association was lost in the mixed-effects model controlling for patient and disease factors (OR 1.23, 0.77-1.97, P = 0.39 and OR 2.11, 0.79-5.62, P = 0.14 respectively), whilst low rectal anastomosis (OR 2.72, 1.55-4.77, P < 0.001) and male gender (OR 2.29, 1.52-3.44, P < 0.001) remained strongly associated. The overall positive circumferential margin resection rate was 4.0%, which varied between operative approaches: laparoscopic 3.2%, transanal 3.8%, open 4.7%, robotic 1%.
CONCLUSION: This contemporaneous international snapshot shows that uptake of the TaTME approach is widespread and is associated with surgically and pathologically acceptable results.