Published online Oct 27, 2015. doi: 10.4240/wjgs.v7.i10.249
Peer-review started: June 1, 2015
First decision: July 25, 2015
Revised: August 3, 2015
Accepted: August 20, 2015
Article in press: August 21, 2015
Published online: October 27, 2015
Radical gastrectomy with extended lymph node dissection and prophylactic resection of the omentum, peritoneum over the posterior lesser sac, pancreas and/or spleen was advocated at the beginning of the 1960s in Japan. In time, prophylactic routine resections of the pancreas and/or spleen were abandoned because of the high incidence of postoperative complications. However, omentectomy and bursectomy continued to be standard parts of traditional radical gastrectomy. The bursa omentalis was thought to be a natural barrier against invasion of cancer cells into the posterior part of the stomach. The theoretical rationale for bursectomy was to reduce the risk of peritoneal recurrences by eliminating the peritoneum over the lesser sac, which might include free cancer cells or micrometastases. Over time, the indication for bursectomy was gradually reduced to only patients with posterior gastric wall tumors penetrating the serosa. Despite its theoretical advantages, its benefit for recurrence or survival has not been proven yet. The possible reasons for this inconsistency are discussed in this review. In conclusion, the value of bursectomy in the treatment of gastric cancer is still under debate and large-scale randomized studies are necessary. Until clear evidence of patient benefit is obtained, its routine use cannot be recommended.
Core tip: Components of radical gastrectomy have decreased over time but bursectomy has been still accepted as an integral part of radical gastrectomy by Far East surgeons but not world-wide. More large-scale comparative studies are necessary to determine its benefits for cancer recurrence and patient survival. Until patient benefits are demonstrated by future studies, its routine application cannot be justified.