Hand-assisted laparoscopic low anterior resection: Initial experience with a new procedure

A. Pietrabissa, C. Moretto, A. Carobbi, U. Boggi, M. Ghilli, F. Mosca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Laparoscopic low anterior resection for rectal cancer has never gained wide acceptance among general surgeons, mainly due to the technical difficulties encountered during pelvic dissection. It has therefore been stated that these patients should undergo open rather than laparoscopic surgery. Hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery (HALS) is a new technique that has the potential to overcome many of the existing limitations of pure laparoscopy. In the treatment of rectal cancer, HALS could reproduce an operative setting similar to that of the open approach. Methods: To assess the technical feasibility of hand-assisted laparoscopic low anterior resection for rectal cancer and evaluate potential benefits and drawbacks of this new procedure, a pilot study was conducted at a university hospital on 16 consecutive patients during a 12-month period. Only patients with extraperitoneal rectal cancer were included in this series. Patients' clinical data, operative time, conversion rate, complications, and early outcome measures were prospectively examined. Results: There were 9 men and 7 women. The average ± SD operation time was 238 ± 38 min. Conversion to open surgery was never required. Ten of 16 patients were off pain medication on the third postoperative day. Eight were able to walk the day after surgery. Three minor postoperative complications were recorded. Mean postoperative stay for patients without complications was 5.6 ± 1.4 days. Conclusion: From a technical standpoint, the reported hand-assisted procedure makes pelvic dissection during laparoscopic low anterior resection almost equivalent to the laparotomic operation. The incision for hand access that is needed with this technique does not seem to compromise the quick recovery of patients undergoing purely laparoscopic procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-435
Number of pages5
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery
  • Rectal cancer
  • Surgical technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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