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Br J Surg. 2001 Mar;88(3):400-4.

Outcome and late functional results after anastomotic leakage following mesorectal excision for rectal cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Aker Hospital, N-0514 Oslo, Norway.



Few studies have evaluated the long-term functional outcome after anastomotic leakage in the treatment of rectal cancer.


Between 1993 and 1998, 147 patients were admitted with resectable rectal carcinoma, and 92 underwent low anterior resection (LAR). Seventeen patients (18 per cent) developed clinical anastomotic leakage. The functional outcome of 11 of 12 patients, in whom the stoma was subsequently closed and bowel continuity was restored without stricture, was compared with that of 11 matched patients who had undergone LAR without leakage. Anorectal manovolumetry and symptom scoring on visual analogue scales were done 12-48 months after stoma closure.


Nine patients made an uneventful recovery after the initial treatment of anastomotic leakage. Eight developed serious septic complications, four of whom had a pelvic abscess, but there was no death. Five patients had chronic complications that precluded closure of the stoma. Patients who had experienced leakage showed reduced neorectal capacity (120 versus 180 ml; P = 0.04), more evacuation problems (P = 0.02), and a trend towards more faecal urgency (P = 0.09) and incontinence (P = 0.06) than control patients.


Stoma closure was not possible in five of 17 patients who had experienced anastomotic leakage. Patients who had the stoma closed had impaired long-term anorectal function compared with control patients without leakage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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