BACKGROUND: Minimally invasive surgery in elderly patients with colorectal cancer remains controversial. The study aimed to compare the operative, postoperative, and oncologic outcomes of robotic (robotic colorectal resection surgery [RCRS]) versus laparoscopic colorectal resection surgery (LCRS) in elderly patients with colorectal cancer.
METHODS: Propensity score matching (PSM) was used to compare patients aged 70 years and more undergoing elective RCRS or LCRS for colorectal cancer between 2010 and 2017.
RESULTS: Overall, 160 patients underwent elective curative LCRS (n = 102) or RCRS (n = 58) for colorectal cancer. Before PSM, the mean preoperative Charlson score and the tumor size were significantly lower in the robotic group. After matching, 43 RCRSs were compared with 43 LCRSs. The RCRS group showed longer operative times (300.6 versus 214.5 min, P = .03) compared with LCRS, but all other operative variables were comparable between the two groups. No differences were found for postoperative morbidity, mortality, time to flatus, return to regular diet, and length of hospital stay. R0 resection was obtained in 95.3% of procedures. The overall and disease-free survival rates at 1, 2, and 3 years were similar between RCRS and LCRS patients. The presence of more than one comorbidity before surgery was significantly associated with the incidence of postoperative complications.
CONCLUSION: In patients aged 70 years or more, robotic colorectal surgery showed operative and oncologic outcomes similar to those obtained by laparoscopy, despite longer operative times. Randomized trials are awaited to reliably assess the clinical and oncological noninferiority and the costs/benefits ratio of robotic colorectal surgery in elderly populations.