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Br J Surg. 1990 Oct;77(10):1095-7.

Intraoperative air testing of colorectal anastomoses: a prospective, randomized trial.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Leicester Royal Infirmary, UK.


A total of 145 consecutive patients receiving a colorectal anastomosis were randomized to 'test' or 'no test' once the anastomosis had been completed. Anastomotic testing was performed with the pelvis filled with saline and the rectum distended by sigmoidoscopic insufflation of air. Any leaks demonstrated were oversewn. A water-soluble contrast enema was performed on the tenth postoperative day. Seventy-four patients were randomized to 'test' and 71 to 'no test' but one patient was withdrawn from each group leaving a total of 143 for analysis. The two groups were well matched for age, sex, diagnosis and operative details. Eighteen (25 per cent) air leaks were detected and repaired in the 'test' group. After operation there were three (4 per cent) clinical leaks in the 'test' group and ten (14 per cent) in the 'no test' group (Fisher's exact test, P = 0.043). There were eight (11 per cent) radiological leaks in the 'test' group and 20 (29 per cent) in the 'no test' group (P = 0.006). Intraoperative air testing and repair of colorectal anastomoses significantly reduces the risk of postoperative clinical and radiological leaks.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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