The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of fluorescence angiography (FA) on any change in proximal resection margin and/or anastomotic leak (AL) following transanal total mesorectal excision (TaTME) for rectal cancer (RC).
This retrospective cohort study was conducted at two centers by three senior surgeons. Both institutions’ prospectively maintained Institutional Review Board-approved databases were retrospectively queried for all consecutive patients between July 2015 and May 2017 who had laparoscopic hybrid trans-abdominal total mesorectal excision (TME) and TaTME for RC with colorectal or coloanal anastomosis < 10 cm from the anal verge. All patients had intraoperative FA to assess colonic perfusion of the planned proximal resection margin before bowel transection and after construction of the anastomosis. Primary outcomes measured any changes in proximal resection margins and AL rates.
Fifty-four patients (31 males; mean age 63 ± 12 years) were included; 30 (55%) of whom received neoadjuvant chemoradiation. The average anastomotic height was 3.6 cm from the anal verge and 8 (14.5%) patients required intersphincteric dissection. Forty-six patients (85%) had loop ileostomy. FA led to a change in the proximal resection margin in 10 patients (18.5%), one of whom had AL on postoperative day 3 requiring diagnostic laparoscopy and loop ileostomy. A second patient, without a change in the proximal resection margin, also had an AL. The overall AL rate was 3.7%.
FA changed the planned proximal resection margin in 18.5% of patients, possibly accounting for the relatively low AL rate. FA is imperfect, and subjective but does have the potential to improve outcomes.