Randomized clinical trial of standard laparoscopic versus robot-assisted laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

Draaisma WA, Ruurda JP, Scheffer RC, Simmermacher RK, Gooszen HG, Rijnhart-de Jong HG, Buskens E, Broeders IA.

Robotic systems for minimally invasive surgery may be of added value during extensive dissection and suturing in confined spaces, such as laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication (LNF). The purpose of this trial was to compare standard LNF with robot-assisted Nissen fundoplication (RNF).

Between 2003 and 2005, 50 patients with confirmed refractory gastro-oesophageal reflux disease were assigned to LNF (25) or RNF (25). Patients who had undergone previous antireflux surgery were excluded. Independent assessment of dysphagia, regurgitation, heartburn and general well-being was performed before and 6 months after surgery using questionnaires. Objective outcome was studied 6 months after surgery by oesophageal manometry, 24-h pH monitoring, barium oesophagram series and upper endoscopy.

Operating time, blood loss, postoperative pain scores, hospital stay and complication rates did not differ significantly between the two groups. Reoperation rates were the same (one incisional hernia after LNF and one patient with repeat Nissen after RNF because of persistent dysphagia). Postoperative self-rated change in reflux symptoms and quality of life improved equally in both groups. The reduction in oesophageal acid exposure, increase in lower oesophageal sphincter tone and mucosal healing were comparable in both groups at follow-up.

RNF yielded similar subjective and objective results to LNF in this study. Therefore no additive value of robotic systems for this procedure was detected up to 6 months after surgery.