Seniority of the assistant surgeon and perioperative outcomes in robotic-assisted proctectomy for rectal cancer

Mai Shiber, Roi Anteby, Benjamin Russell, Yaniv Zager, Mordechai Gutman, Ido Nachmany, Nir Horesh*, Marat Khaikin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The background of this study is to evaluate the impact of the assistant surgeon's in robotic-assisted proctectomy (RAP) on perioperative outcomes. A retrospective analysis of all patients who underwent RAP for rectal adenocarcinoma between 2011 and 2020 was conducted. Patient cohort was divided into three groups based on the assistant surgeon’s training level: post-graduate years (PGY) 1–3 surgical residents (Group 1), PGY 4–5 surgical residents (Group 2), and board-certified general surgeons (Group 3). Overall, 175 patients were included in the study: 29 patients (17%) in Group 1, 84 (48%) in Group 2, and 62 (35%) in Group 3. The median tumor distance from the anal verge was 8 cm in all groups (p = 0.73). The median operative time was similar across all groups: 290, 291, and 281 min in Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively (p = 0.69). In a multivariable analysis, the lack of association between assistant training level and procedure time maintained when adjusting for the year of operation (p = 0.84). Patients operated with junior residents as assistant surgeons (Group 1) had a more postoperative complications (p = 0.01) and a slightly longer hospital length of stay [7 days, interquartile range (IQR) 3], compared to those operated by assistant surgeons that were senior residents or attendings (6 IQR 2.5, and 6 IQR 2 in Groups 2 and 3, respectively; p = 0.02). Conversion rates (p = 0.12), intraoperative complications (p = 0.39), major postoperative complications (Clavien–Dindo ≥ 3; p = 0.32), 30-day readmission (p = 0.45), and mortality (p = 0.99) were similar between the groups. Robotic-assisted proctectomy performed with the assistance of a junior resident was found to be correlated with worse postoperative outcomes compared to more experienced assistants. No difference was seen in intraoperative outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1104
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Robotic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Assistant surgeon
  • Postoperative complications
  • Rectal cancer
  • Robotic surgery


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