THURSDAY, June 23, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Minimally invasive colon surgery reduces the risk of blood clots in the deep veins compared with traditional surgery, University of California, Irvine, researchers report.
Deep vein blood clots, called venous thromboembolism (VTE), occur in about a quarter of patients who have colorectal surgery, the researchers said. The benefits of less invasive laparoscopic surgery also include faster recovery time and a smaller scar, but these advantages may not be enough to bring about a widespread switch from traditional surgery.
"From the cancer perspective, this does not appear to be a game changer," said Dr. Durado Brooks, director of colorectal cancer at the American Cancer Society.
Brooks said that among cancer patients in the study, no significant difference in the risk of VTE was found between the two procedures.
"In addition, cancer had been viewed as a contraindication for laparoscopic surgery," Brooks said. "There needs to be a more focused study looking [exclusively] at the cancer population before anyone would promote laparoscopic surgery as the way to go for cancer patients."
The report was published in the June issue of the Archives of Surgery.
For the study, a team led by Dr. Brian Buchberg used information from the U.S. National Inpatient Sample database to look for the risk of deep vein blood clots among 149,304 patients who had colon surgery from 2002 through 2006. Of these patients, 5.3 percent had laparoscopic surgery.
Buchberg's group found such clots occurred in 1.4 percent of the patients -- 65 laparoscopy patients and 2,036 who had traditional surgery.
The risk of clots was almost twice as high among patients undergoing traditional surgery as for the laparoscopy patients, the researchers said.
With both types of surgery, they found that cancer, obesity and congestive heart failure were significant risk factors for clotting.
Brooks thinks it's worthwhile for patients to ask their doctor if laparoscopic surgery is an option, but he added that it's not advisable for all patients.
"The main issue with cancer is you want to make sure you get adequate cancer control," Brooks said. "You can't just look at whether you get an individual out of the hospital sooner."
Also, you can't look at the likelihood of having a deep vein clot, he said. "You have to look at whether you are impacting their five-year survival favorably or unfavorably with laparoscopic surgery," Brooks added.
For more information on colon cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.