To investigate the feasibility of transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM), a minimal access technique for the local resection of rectal tumours.
IJsselland Hospital, Capelle a/d IJssel, the Netherlands.
TEM was performed in all patients between January 1996 and December 1997 with a rectal adenoma that could not be removed endoscopically, or with a rectal carcinoma and poor general condition which allowed no transabdominal surgery. TEM involves air insufflation and endosurgical resection of the tumour under direct vision.
In all 11 tumours within approximately 4 cm from the linea anorectalis conversion was necessary due to technical problems and 1 tumour could not be visualized because of a stenosis. In all 23 other tumours TEM was performed. Mean distance from the linea anorectalis was 6.9 cm (4-12), with a mean surface of the base of the tumour of 7.7 cm2 (1-30). Mean operating time was 76 minutes (10-180). In one tumour the defect could not be completely closed, and conversion was necessary. Postoperatively one suture dehiscence and one urinary tract infection occurred. None of the patients had functional disorders. Every specimen contained all bowel layers, and in all but one, the margins were free of tumour. In 13 tumours an adenoma was diagnosed and in 10, a carcinoma. In 2 patients with carcinoma additional resection was performed. Mean follow-up was 9 months (1-23), and concerned 21 tumours. No recurrence has been observed.
TEM is a good method for the local resection of rectal tumours, when located more than 4 cm from the linea anorectalis. Radical resection, containing all bowel layers, is possible, and has, as it appears, a low recurrence rate.