The Washington University Section of Colon and Rectal Surgery was part of an international team that determined that minimally invasive surgery is as safe and effective as standard open surgery for most patients with cancer confined to the colon.

In addition to the cosmetic benefits of having a smaller incision, patients who received the minimally invasive procedure, called laparoscopically assisted colectomy, also required one less day in the hospital, one less day on intravenous pain killers and one less day on oral pain killers.

Patients in the study were randomly assigned to receive either standard or minimally invasive surgery and their progress was followed for eight years.

The team found that cancer returned to the colon or to the location of the surgical wound at almost the exact same rate in both groups of patients. The survival rate, overall survival and rates of complications also were nearly identical.

These positive results were due in large part to the study’s stringent requirements. The research team submitted a position statement adopted by the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons proposing that credentials for performing laparoscopically assisted colectomies should only be given to surgeons who meet specific qualifications and who strictly adhere to standard operating procedures.

Washington University colon and rectal surgeons are acknowledged experts in this minimally invasive approach. They developed and tested the procedure and now teach it to other surgeons.

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