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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(3):CD003144.

Stapled versus handsewn methods for colorectal anastomosis surgery.

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Surgical Gastroenterology Department, Federal University of São Paulo, Rua Edson 278, AP61., São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, 04618-031.



Randomized controlled trials comparing stapled with handsewn colorectal anastomosis have not shown either technique to be superior, perhaps because individual studies lacked statistical power. A systematic review, with pooled analysis of results, might provide a more definitive answer.


To compare the safety and effectiveness of stapled and handsewn colorectal anastomosis. The following primary hypothesis was tested: the stapled technique is more effective because it decreases the level of complications.


The RCT register of the Cochrane Review Group was searched for any trial or reference to a relevant trial (published, in-press, or in progress). All publications were sought through computerised searches of EMBASE, LILACS, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Controlled Clinical Trials Database, and through letters to industrial companies and authors. There were no limits upon language, date, or other criteria.



All randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in which stapled and handsewn colorectal anastomosis were compared.


Adult patients submitted electively to colorectal anastomosis.


Endoluminal circular stapler and handsewn colorectal anastomosis.


a) Mortality b) Overall Anastomotic Dehiscence c) Clinical Anastomotic Dehiscence d) Radiological Anastomotic Dehiscence e) Stricture f) Anastomotic Haemorrhage g) Reoperation h) Wound Infection i) Anastomosis Duration j) Hospital Stay.


Data were independently extracted by the two reviewers (SASL, DM) and cross-checked. The methodological quality of each trial was assessed by the same two reviewers. Details of the randomization (generation and concealment), blinding, whether an intention-to-treat analysis was done, and the number of patients lost to follow-up were recorded. The results of each RCT were summarised on an intention-to-treat basis in 2 x 2 tables for each outcome. External validity was defined by characteristics of the participants, the interventions and the outcomes. The RCTs were stratified according to the level of colorectal anastomosis. The Risk Difference method (random effects model) and NNT for dichotomous outcomes measures and weighted mean difference for continuous outcomes measures, with the corresponding 95% confidence interval, were presented in this review. Statistical heterogeneity was evaluated by using funnel plot and chi-square testing.


Of the 1233 patients enrolled ( in 9 trials), 622 were treated with stapled, and 611 with manual, suture. The following main results were obtained: a) Mortality: result based on 901 patients; Risk Difference - 0.6% Confidence Interval -2.8% to +1.6%. b) Overall Dehiscence: result based on 1233 patients; Risk Difference 0.2%, 95% Confidence Interval -5.0% to +5.3%. c) Clinical Anastomotic Dehiscence : result based on 1233 patients; Risk Difference -1.4%, 95% Confidence Interval -5.2 to +2.3%. d) Radiological Anastomotic Dehiscence : result based on 825 patients; Risk Difference 1.2%, 95% Confidence Interval -4.8% to +7.3%. e) Stricture: result based on 1042 patients; Risk Difference 4.6%, 95% Confidence Interval 1.2% to 8.1%. Number needed to treat 17, 95% confidence interval 12 to 31. f) Anastomotic Hemorrhage: result based on 662 patients; Risk Difference 2.7%, 95% Confidence Interval - 0.1% to +5.5%. g) Reoperation: result based on 544 patients; Risk Difference 3.9%, 95% Confidence Interval 0.3% to 7.4%. h) Wound Infection: result based on 567 patients; Risk Difference 1.0%, 95% Confidence Interval -2.2% to +4.3%. i) Anastomosis duration: result based on one study (159 patients); Weighted Mean Difference -7.6 minutes, 95% Confidence Interval -12.9 to -2.2 minutes. j) Hospital Stay: result based on one study (159 patients), Weighted Mean Difference 2.0 days, 95% Confidence Interval -3.27 to +7.2 days.


The evidence found was insufficient to demonstrate any superiority of stapled over handsewn techniques in colorectal anastomosis, regardless of the level of anastomosis.

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