Background: The purpose of this study was to compare clinical outcomes between laparoscopically assisted and open distal gastrectomy for early gastric cancer. Methods: The records of 21 patients who underwent laparoscopically assisted distal gastrectomy (LG) for preoperative diagnosis of intramucosal gastric carcinoma between January 1996 and August 1998 were reviewed and compared with those of 31 open distal gastrectomy patients during the same period. Results: Age, gender, and size and histologic differentiation of the lesions were matched. Those located at the body of the stomach (p = 0.011) and those macroscopically depressed (p = 0.049) were subjected more frequently to open surgery. Laparoscopically assisted gastrectomy required significantly longer operative time (p < 0.001) with less extensive lymph node dissection (p < 0.001). However, time to start of walking (p = 0.032), time to flatus (p = 0.002), duration of postoperative fever (p = 0.027), and postoperative hospital stay (p = 0.001) were significantly shorter in the LG group, and this group had a lower white blood cell count on the first postoperative day (p = 0.010). Blood loss and time to oral intake were comparable between the groups. Complications included one conversion to open surgery, one leakage, and one stenosis in the LG group, and two leakages and an atelectasis in the OG group. Conclusions: Although LG requires longer surgical time, this retrospective study suggests that it is superior to open surgery in terms of faster postoperative recoveries, shorter hospital stays, and cosmetic outcomes.
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