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Colorectal Dis. 2009 Mar;11(3):288-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2008.01585.x. Epub 2008 May 29.

The fate of anastomotic sinuses after total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer.

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Department of General and Colorectal Surgery, North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, UK.



Chronic anastomotic sinus is a recognized complication of total mesorectal excision (TME) surgery. We observed two patients who developed new tumours within chronic anastomotic sinuses 6 and 19 years after initial surgery. The aim of this study was therefore to report the incidence and outcome of anastomotic sinuses, thus identifying those at potential risk of malignant change.


We retrospectively reviewed patient records and radiology reports to identify potentially curative rectal cancer cases between 1998 and 2005.


In a consecutive series of 100 TMEs with ileostomy, there were 70 males and 30 females, aged 66 (33-88) years. Anastomosis was by double staple technique. A policy of instant enema was used prior to ileostomy closure. Eighty-six patients had instant enemas. Of the 14 that did not, four died prior to enema, one returned to theatre for sepsis, three had their anastomoses assessed by sigmoidoscopy alone. Six had incomplete records. Of the 86 patients, eight presacral sinuses were identified. Three sinuses closed spontaneously. Five persisted of whom two required further surgery.


Persistent anastomotic sinuses occurred in 5% after curative TME. Malignant transformation can occur. Active treatment for chronic sinuses should, therefore, be considered.

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