Transanal total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer: hype or new hope?

Chien-Chih Chen, Yi-Ling Lai, Andy Yi-Ming Cheng, Chun-Ho Chu, I-Ping Huang, Shung-Haur Yang


Rectal cancer has always posed surgical challenges to the colorectal surgeon. The quality of the total mesorectal excision (TME) performed is key in determining local disease control. Unlike the great success in adoption of laparoscopic surgery in colon cancer treatment, studies comparing laparoscopy to open rectal surgery all revealed noninferiority was not achieved. Transanal TME (taTME) is the latest advanced technique pioneered to tackle difficult pelvic dissections. The evolution of taTME surgery in recent years was explored in this review. The outcomes to date on the latest literatures are reviewed, included complications, functional outcomes, oncological results and future clinical researches. taTME, while definitely still in its early stages of development, has steadily accumulated safety and feasibility data. It not only provides a better solution to an old problem that colorectal surgeons have been attempting to tackle for quite some time, but also appears to be quite promising in terms of outcomes on numerous fronts. With structured training models, and proctored clinical application, alongside design and implementation of international-scale large multicenter randomized clinical trials, one can only hope that taTME and its innovations will not only open a new era for colorectal surgery, but also for even more surgical disease pathologies.