Objective: The robot-assisted surgical system was developed for minimally invasive surgery and is thought to have the potential to overcome the shortcomings of laparoscopic surgery. We introduced this system for the treatment of gastric cancer in 2008. Here we report our initial experiences of robot-assisted surgery using the da Vinci system. Methods: A retrospective review of robot-assisted gastrectomy for gastric cancer patients was performed in our institute. The clinicopathological features and surgical outcomes were analyzed. Whereas the procedures of the gastrectomy were similar to those of the usual laparoscopic surgery, several aspects such as the port placement and the role of the assistant were modified from those for conventional laparoscopic surgery. Results: From January 2008 to December 2010, 61 patients with gastric cancer underwent robot-assisted surgery. Gastrectomy was distal in 46 patients, total in 14, proximal in 1 and no operation was converted to the open procedure. D2 lymph node dissection was performed on 28 patients in the distal gastrectomy group and on 11 in the total gastrectomy group. Complications occurred in 2 cases (4%): these consisted of ruptured sutures and hemorrhage from the anastomotic site. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that robot-assisted gastrectomy using the da Vinci system can be applied safely and effectively for patients with gastric cancer.
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