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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1988 Nov;70(6):345-7.

Intra-operative air testing: an audit on rectal anastomosis.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Bristol Royal Infirmary.


Thirty three patients having an anastomosis to the rectum were studied prospectively to determine the usefulness of intra-operative air testing. The pelvis was filled with saline and the anastomosis was distended with air. Any leaks demonstrated were oversewn. A Gastrografin enema was performed on all the patients on the eighth postoperative day. Overall, there were 4 (12%) clinical leaks and 10 (30%) radiological leaks. In six patients with air leaks demonstrated at operation, two had a radiological leak, one of which presented clinically as well. We believe that in the other four patients a potential leak was probably avoided as a result of intra-operative air testing. This technique is simple, safe and effective and probably helps reduce leakage after colorectal anastomosis.

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