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St. Michael’s first hospital in Toronto performing minimally invasive colorectal procedure

Hospital using high-tech TEMS (transanal endoscopic microsurgery) technique to treat lesions and early cancer in the rectum

Toronto, June 28, 2011

By Kate Taylor

St. Michael's Hospital has become the first in Toronto to use a cutting-edge technique for colorectal lesions and early-stage cancer – another step toward becoming a leader in minimally invasive surgery.

The transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEMS) procedure allows surgeons to treat lesions larger or higher in the rectum than ever before, rather than having to perform major abdominal surgery to remove all or part of the rectum.

Previously, surgeons using a retractor in the anal canal could generally only remove lesions that were within seven to eight centimeters of the anal opening. The TEMS technique extends the reach to the top of the rectum or even the lower colon – as high as 18 to 20 centimeters.

“Not only does this allow us to deal with lesions larger and higher in the rectum, but the evidence is clear that we do a better and more precise excision of these lesions,” said Dr. Marcus Burnstein, program director, colon and rectal surgery and the first doctor at the hospital to perform the surgery.

The high-tech procedure mainly treats two kinds of lesions – pre-cancerous polyps and early-stage cancers that have minimally invaded the rectal wall.

The TEMS scope is placed in the anal canal and can be advanced to the top of the rectum, providing excellent vision for the surgeon. Operating instruments are inserted through the device, allowing careful removal of lesions.

“The TEMS technique is associated with less risk, less post-operative pain, decreased hospital stay and reduced costs compared to an abdominal operation,” Dr. Burnstein said. “Our first patient recently underwent the TEMS procedure and has done extremely well.”