PURPOSE: The benefits of early postoperative recovery, reduced postoperative pain, pulmonary dysfunction, and hospitalization after laparoscopic colectomy may improve outcome over open colectomy in obese patients. This case-matched study compares outcomes after open and laparoscopic colectomy. METHODS: A total of 94 laparoscopic colectomy patients with a body mass index >30 (Jan 1999-June 2003) were identified from a prospective database and matched to open colectomy cases for age, gender, body mass index, American Society of Anesthesiologists class, procedure, indication, and date of surgery. Operating time, length of stay, conversion, intraoperative and postoperative complications, reoperation, 30-day readmission rate, and costs were compared. Data are presented as means ± standard deviations, and appropriate statistical tests were used. RESULTS: The two groups were matched for age (P = 0.06), gender (P = 1), American Society of Anesthesiologists class (P = 0.2), body mass index (P = 0.4), indication for surgery (P = 1), and procedure (P = 1). By using intention-to-treat-type analysis, there was no difference in median operating time (100 vs. 110 (mean, 123 vs. 112) minutes; P = 0.1), complications (21 vs. 24 percent; P = 0.74), readmission (17 vs. 10.6 percent; P = 0.3), reoperation rates (6.4 vs. 4.3 percent; P = 0.75), or direct costs (median, $3,368 vs. $3,552; mean, $4,003 vs. $4,037; P = 0.14) between laparoscopic colectomy or open colectomy; however, the median length of stay (3 vs. 5.5 (mean, 3.8 vs. 5.8) days; P = 0.0001) was significantly shorter after laparoscopic colectomy. Twenty-eight patients required conversion for adhesions (n = 11), bleeding (n = 3), obesity-hindering vision or dissection (n = 9), large phlegmon or tumor (n = 4), and ureteric injury (n = 1). The mean operating time for conversions was 142 minutes and length of stay was 6.4 days. Compared with laparoscopically completed cases, the median length of stay (5 vs. 2 (mean, 6.4 vs. 2.8) days; P = 0.0001) and median operating times (150 vs. 95 (mean, 142 vs. 115) minutes; P = 0.02) were significantly higher in the converted group, but there was no difference in the complication (P = 0.8), readmission (P = 1), or reoperation (P = 0.7) rates. Compared with open colectomy, the operating time (P = 0.02) was significantly higher in the converted group but there were no significant differences in the length of stay (P = 0.18), complication (P = 1), readmission (P = 0.35), or reoperative (P = 1) rates. CONCLUSIONS: Laparoscopic colectomy can be performed safely in obese patients, with shorter postoperative recovery than that with open colectomy. Although obesity is associated with a high conversion rate, outcome in these converted cases is comparable to the matched open cases.
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