Background: Increasing numbers of patients are treated by robotic distal gastrectomy (RDG); however, it remains unclear whether RDG is clinically comparable with conventional laparoscopic distal gastrectomy (LDG). This study aimed to clarify the feasibility of RDG from safety aspects. Methods: The study included 109 cT1 gastric cancer patients who underwent RDG at Shizuoka Cancer Center from January 2012 to April 2015. Short-term outcomes were compared with 160 cT1 gastric cancer patients who underwent LDG during the same period. Results: Patient characteristics were well matched. The RDG patients experienced longer operative times (323 min) than LDG patients (285 min; P < 0.001), although all other surgical outcomes were comparable between the groups. Drain amylase levels on POD 1 were significantly lower in the RDG group compared to LDG cases (median 452 U/L and 892 U/L; P < 0.001). The incidence of all complications was similar across the study patients, although intra-abdominal infectious complications tended to be lower in the RDG group than in the LDG group (2.8 and 8.1%; P = 0.112). Conclusions: RDG was comparable to LDG in terms of feasibility for cT1 gastric cancer. RDG has the potential to reduce pancreas damage and thus to decrease intra-abdominal infectious complications.
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