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Dis Colon Rectum. 2008 Aug;51(8):1221-4; discussion 1224. doi: 10.1007/s10350-008-9295-3. Epub 2008 May 30.

Tracking outcomes of anorectal surgery: the need for a disease-specific quality assessment tool.

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Department of Surgery, Fletcher Allen Health Care, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont 05401, USA.



We sought to determine the nature and timing of complications after common anorectal operations by using a prospective quality tracking tool.


A prospectively maintained quality database was queried to identify patients who underwent pilonidal sinus excision, hemorrhoidectomy, sphincterotomy, abscess drainage, or fistulotomy during an 11-year interval. All hospital complications were recorded by a single nurse practitioner and verified jointly by the surgical team. Any posthospital complications were registered at the first postoperative visit.


A total of 969 patients underwent one of the five index anorectal procedures during the study period. Forty-nine complications occurred in 38 patients (3.9 percent). The majority of complications were minor (40/49; 82 percent) and were primarily urinary retention, minor bleeding, and wound infection. Twenty-five of the 40 minor complications (62 percent) were identified only after hospital discharge in the outpatient setting. Eight of the nine major complications occurred in patients already hospitalized for major concomitant illnesses and were unrelated to the anorectal surgery. The remaining patient had a postoperative deep vein thrombosis.


Complications after anorectal procedures are infrequent, typically minor, and occur after hospital discharge. Major complications reflect concomitant illness, not surgical quality. Meaningful outcome measures are needed to assess the quality of anorectal surgery.

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