To clarify the safety profile of laparoscopic distal gastrectomy (LDG) for gastric cancer patients, the short-term outcome of LDG was compared to that of open distal gastrectomy (ODG) by propensity score matching using data from the Japanese National Clinical Database (NCD). We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing distal gastrectomy between January 2012 and December 2013. Using the data for 70 346 patients registered in the NCD, incidences of mortality and morbidities were compared between LDG patients and ODG patients in the propensity score matched stage I patients (ODG: n = 14 386, LDG: n = 14 386) and stage II-IV patients (ODG: n = 3738, LDG: n = 3738), respectively. There was no significant difference in mortality rates between LDG and ODG at all stages. Operating time was significantly longer in LDG compared to ODG, whereas blood loss and incidences of superficial surgical site infection (SSI), deep SSI, and wound dehiscence were significantly higher in ODG at all stages. Interestingly, pancreatic fistula was found significantly more often in LDG (1%) compared to ODG (0.8%) (P =.01) in stage I patients; however, it was not different in stage II-IV patients. The length of postoperative stay was significantly longer in patients undergoing ODG compared to LDG at all stages. LDG in general practice might be a feasible therapeutic option in patients with both advanced gastric cancer and those with early gastric cancer in Japan.
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