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Dig Surg. 2001;18(5):399-402.

Current practices in left-sided colonic emergencies: a survey of US gastrointestinal surgeons.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, NY, USA.



The paradigms in the surgical management of obstruction and perforation of the left colon - once considered absolute contraindications to primary resection and anastomosis - are changing. The aim of this survey was to poll American Gastrointestinal surgeons on their current approach to left colonic emergencies.


A questionnaire was sent to 500 US-based surgeons, randomly selected members from the membership list of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract. It surveyed the surgeons on how they would approach 'good-risk' and 'poor-risk' patients with left colonic obstruction or perforation.


215 (43%) surgeons responded to the questionnaire; 180 fully completed questionnaires (36%) were analyzed. Sigmoid obstruction: 96 responders (53%) selected a one-stage procedure in 'good-risk' patients; 78 preferred sigmoid resection with (n = 46) or without (n = 32) 'on-table' colonic lavage and 18 opted for a subtotal colectomy and ileo-rectal anastomosis. Most (94%) responders preferred a staged procedure in 'high-risk' patients: a Hartmann resection (n = 120) or a transverse colostomy (n = 46). Sigmoid diverticular perforation: only one third of the responders recommended a one-stage procedure in 'good-risk' patients: 58 would perform a sigmoidectomy with (n = 19) or without (n = 39) 'on-table' colonic lavage; only two opted for subtotal colectomy with ileo-rectal anastomosis. In 'high-risk' patients most surgeons opted for a Hartmann's (88%) procedure or a diverting colostomy (7%).


This survey suggests that a half and one-third of the responders would perform a one-stage resection and anastomosis in 'good-risk' patients with left colonic obstruction and perforation, respectively. In 'poor-risk' patients most responders would still opt for a staged procedure.

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