A comparison of laparoscopic-assisted (LAARP) and posterior sagittal (PSARP) anorectoplasty in the outcome of intermediate and high anorectal malformations
Introduction. Laparoscopic-assisted anorectoplasty (LAARP) has gained popularity since its introduction in 2000. Further evidence is needed to compare its outcome with the gold standard of posterior sagittal anorectoplasty (PSARP). Method. Aretrospective review of patients presenting with anorectal malformation (ARM) in the period 2000 - 2009. Demographics, associated abnormalities, and operative and post-operative complications were assessed. The functional outcome in children older than 3 years was assessed, applying the Krickenbeck scoring system and, where possible, by interviewing parents. Patients with cloacal abnormalities were excluded. Patients with a LAARP were compared with those managed by PSARP. Results. Seventy-three patients with ARM were identified during the study period. Male to female ratio was 1.6:1. All 32 low ARMs (perineal and vestibular fistulae) were excluded. Thirty-nine had levator or supra-levator lesions. Twenty males presented with recto-bulbar, 3 with recto-prostatic, and 1 with a recto-vesical fistula; 2 had no fistula; and in 2 the data were insufficient to determine the level. Among the females, 6 had recto-vaginal fistulae, 4 had cloacas and 1 had an ARM without fistula. There were 3 syndromic ARMs (2 trisomy 21 and 1 BallerGerold syndrome). One neonate with a long-gap oesophageal atresia had a successful primary LAARP. Seventy-five per cent of all patients had VACTERL associations. Two early deaths after colostomy formation were related to a cardiac anomaly and an oesophageal atresia. In both groups, mean age at anoplasty was 8 months. Twenty of the intermediate/high lesions were treated with LAARP, and 19 by PSARP. There were slightly more complications in the LAARP group; intra-operative injury to the vas deferens and urethra occurred once each. Post-operatively, 2 port-site hernias and 1 case of pelvic sepsis occurred. A poorly sited colostomy caused difficulty in 2 patients. Two patients were converted to laparotomy: severe adhesions in one and a poorly sited stoma in another. Five patients required redo-anoplasty for mucosal prolapse, anal stenosis, incorrect placement of the anus, retraction of the rectum and an ischaemic rectal stricture. Complications in the PSARP group included 2 wound dehiscences, 1 anal stenosis, 3 mucosal prolapses, 1 recurrent fistula and 2 incorrect anal placements requiring redo surgery. The Krickenbeck questionnaire was used in 70% of PSARPs (mean age 5.9 years) and LAARPs (mean age 5.5 years) for a functional assessment. Both groups showed voluntary bowel movements in 14%. Soiling and overflow incontinence was a significant problem. Grade III constipation was less common in the LAARP (14%) than PSARP (21%) group. Four patients in the LAARP group were reliant on regular rectal washouts compared with 6 in the PSARP group. Conclusion. Both LAARP and PSARP can successfully treat ARM but have specific associated problems.