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Short-term outcomes of laparoscopic-assisted distal gastrectomy for gastric cancer during a surgeon’s learning curve period

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Laparoscopy-assisted distal gastrectomy (LADG) is gaining wider acceptance for treating early gastric cancer (EGC). However, many gastric surgeons are still reluctant to perform LADG, mainly because this procedure entails a considerable learning curve. We aimed to evaluate the technical feasibility and short-term outcomes of performing LADG by a single experienced gastric surgeon who initially had no experience with laparoscopic surgery as compared with open distal gastrectomy (ODG).


Between January 2006 and December 2007, 177 patients with preoperatively diagnosed EGC located at the middle or lower third of the stomach were enrolled; 102 patients underwent LADG, 4 patients had open conversion, and 71 patients underwent conventional ODG. The operative and early postoperative outcomes from a prospective database were compared between the two groups.


The clinicopathological characteristics were similar between the two groups. No operation-related deaths occurred. Although operation time was significantly longer for LADG than for ODG, time to first flatus was shorter and, consequently, postoperative hospital stay was significantly shorter in the LADG group. There was no significant difference in the overall complication rates between the two groups. On comparing the early (n = 50) and late groups (n = 52) of LADG patients, operation time and postoperative hospital stay were shorter and number of retrieved lymph nodes was greater in the late group (p < 0.05). Major and minor complications were markedly reduced in the late group (p < 0.05).


Although LADG was more time consuming than ODG, it was a feasible, safe procedure that accomplished the oncological requirements. Postoperative morbidity of LADG was similar to that of ODG, and LADG led to faster postoperative recovery. However, LADG should be performed carefully to prevent unexpected complications, especially during the early learning period.

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Correspondence to Chang Hak Yoo.

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Yoo, C.H., Kim, H.O., Hwang, S.I. et al. Short-term outcomes of laparoscopic-assisted distal gastrectomy for gastric cancer during a surgeon’s learning curve period. Surg Endosc 23, 2250–2257 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-008-0315-0

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  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Gastric cancer
  • Gastrectomy
  • Complications
  • Learning curve