Laparoscopic intersphincteric resection for low rectal cancer

Elena Orsenigo, Saverio Di Palo, Andrea Vignali, Carlo Staudacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The goal of this review is to outline some of the important surgical issues surrounding the management of patients with low rectal cancer submitted to laparoscopic intersphincteric resection (ISR). Surgery for rectal cancer continues to develop towards the ultimate goals of improved local control and overall survival, maintaining quality of life, and preserving sphincter, genitourinary, and sexual function. Nevertheless, all progress in the development of oncologic therapy (i.e., radiation and chemotherapy), radical surgical removal of the tumour is the only chance for permanent cure of rectal cancer. Beside this main objective, the preservation of faecal continence is the second-most important goal to reach an acceptable quality of life with preservation of sphincter function. Information concerning the depth of tumour penetration through the rectal wall, lymph node involvement, and presence of distant metastatic disease is of crucial importance when planning a curative rectal cancer resection. Preoperative staging is used to determine the indication for neoadjuvant therapy as well as the indication for local excision versus radical cancer resection. In appropriate patients, minimally invasive procedures, such as local excision, TEM, and laparoscopic resection with ISR allow for improved patient comfort, shorter hospital stays, and earlier return to preoperative activity level. Data from small, non-randomized studies evaluating laparoscopic ISR suggest that this procedure is feasible by experienced surgeons. A literature search identified five studies [Uchikoshi F, Nishida T, Ueshima S, Nakahara M, Matsuda H. Laparoscope-assisted anal sphincter-preserving operation preceded by transanal procedure. Tech Coloprocto 2006;10:5-9; Bretagnol F, Rullier E, Couderc P, Rullier A, Saric J. Technical and oncological feasibility of laparoscopic total mesorectal excision with pouch coloanal anastomosis for rectal cancer. Colorectal Disease 2003;5:451-3; Rullier E, Sa Cunha A, Couderc P, Rullier A, Gontier R, Saric J. Laparoscopic intersphincteric resection with coloplasty and coloanal anastomosis for mid and low rectal cancer. British Journal of Surgery 2003;90:445-51; Watanabe M, Teramoto T, Hasegawa H, Kitajima M. Laparoscopic ultralow anterior resection combined with per anum intersphincteric rectal dissection for lower rectal cancer. Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 2000;43(Suppl. 10):S94-7; Miyajima N, Yamakawa T. Laparoscopic surgery for early rectal carcinoma. Nippon Geka Gakkai Zasshi 1999;100:801-5]. The aim was to find those studies that documented potential clinical application of laparoscopic ISR. These studies concluded that a laparoscopic approach can be considered in most patients with low rectal cancer in which laparoscopic ISR represents a feasible alternative to conventional open surgery. Hopefully, randomized controlled trials, which utilize these alternative procedures, will in future determine the results of laparoscopic ISR in terms of sphincter function, faecal continence, disease free and overall survival. The reviewed studies concluded that high quality and less invasive surgery could be achieved if ISR and laparoscopic surgery were combined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-120
Number of pages4
JournalSurgical Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • Intersphincteric resection
  • Laparoscopy
  • Rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Surgery


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