Background

Transanal total mesorectal excision (taTME) or intersphincteric resection (ISR) has recently proven to be a valid and safe surgical procedure for low rectal cancer. However, studies focusing on the combination of these two technologies are limited. This study aimed to evaluate perioperative results, long-term oncologic outcomes, and anorectal functions of patients with low rectal cancer undergoing taTME combined with ISR, by comparing with those of patients undergoing laparoscopic abdominoperineal resection (laAPR).

Methods

After 1:1 propensity score matching, 200 patients with low rectal cancer who underwent laAPR (n =100) or taTME combined with ISR (n =100) between September 2013 and November 2019 were included. Patient demographics, clinicopathological characteristics, oncological outcomes, and anal functional results were analysed.

Results

Patients in the taTME-combined-with-ISR group had less intraoperative blood loss (79.6 ± 72.6 vs 107.3 ± 65.1 mL, P =0.005) and a lower rate of post-operative complications (22.0% vs 44.0%, P <0.001) than those in the laAPR group. The overall local recurrence rates were 7.0% in both groups within 3 years after surgery. The 3-year disease-free survival rates were 86.3% in the taTME-combined-with-ISR group and 75.1% in the laAPR group (P =0.056), while the 3-year overall survival rates were 96.7% and 94.2%, respectively (P =0.319). There were 39 patients (45.3%) in the taTME-combined-with-ISR group who developed major low anterior resection syndrome, whereas 61 patients (70.9%) had good post-operative anal function (Wexner incontinence score ≤ 10).

Conclusion

We found similar long-term oncological outcomes for patients with low rectal cancer undergoing laAPR and those undergoing taTME combined with ISR. Patients receiving taTME combined with ISR had acceptable post-operative anorectal function.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.