Background: Laparoscopy-assisted distal gastrectomy (LADG) is generally considered superior to open distal gastrectomy (ODG) with regard to postoperative quality-of-life. Differences in postoperative pain may exist due to recent pain control techniques including epidural anesthesia. There is little evidence for this difference. In this article we report the results of our randomized single-blind study in LADG versus ODG. The aim of the present study was to evaluate differences in postoperative physical activity between LADG and ODG. Methods: Forty patients with early gastric cancer (stage IA and IB) were registered in this randomized study. For strict evaluation, patients were not told about the type of operation until postoperative day 7. Postoperative physical activity was evaluated objectively by Active Tracer, which records the cumulative acceleration over a 24 h period to investigate differences in postoperative recovery. Questionnaire and visual analog scale score related to postoperative pain were also investigated. Results: Significant differences were observed with a more favorable outcome noted in the LADG group with respect to intraoperative blood loss (P < 0.001), total amount of pain rescue (P < 0.001), wound size (P < 0.001), postoperative hospital stay (P < 0.001), and inflammatory parameters (C-reactive protein, SaO2, and duration of febrile period) (P < 0.001). Cumulative physical recovery to 70 % of the preoperative level was significantly shorter (by 3 days, P < 0.001) in the LADG group. Conclusions: Comparison of LADG and ODG for patients with early gastric cancer showed favorable outcome and earlier recovery of physical activity in the LADG group.
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