Background: Robotic surgery for the treatment of gastric cancer has been reported, but the technique is not yet established. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and safety of our novel integrated procedure for robotic suprapancreatic D2 nodal dissection during distal gastrectomy. Methods: At our hospital from January 2009 to December 2010, a total of 25 consecutive cases of gastric cancer were treated by robotic distal gastrectomy with intracorporeal Billroth I reconstruction. These patients were enrolled in a prospective study to assess the safety and feasibility of robotic distal gastrectomy with nodal dissection by our novel integrated approach, which consists of three elements: arm formation, the surgical approach, a cutting device. To evaluate the learning curves involved in this approach, clinicopathologic features and surgical outcomes were compared between the initial (n = 12) and late (n = 13) phases. Results: All operations were completed without the need for open or conventional laparoscopic surgery. The mean operating time was 361 ± 58.1 min (range 258-419 min), and blood loss recorded was 51.8 ± 38.2 ml (range 4-123 ml). The median number of retrieved lymph nodes was 44.3 ± 18.4 (range 26-95). R0 resection was accomplished in all cases. There were no deaths or complications related to pancreatic damage. Operating time and surgeon console time for the late phase were significantly shorter than those for the initial phase. Conclusions: Our novel robotic approach for D2 nodal dissection in gastric cancer is feasible and safe.
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