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Hepatogastroenterology. 2012 Sep;59(118):1828-31.

Defunctioning stoma in low anterior resection for rectal cancer: a meta- analysis of five recent studies.

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Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Subei People's Hospital of Jiangsu Province, Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.



The necessity of a defunctioning stoma in low anterior resection with total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer remains controversial. This meta-analysis evaluates the advantages of prophylactic stomas in patients undergoing low anterior resection and assesses postoperative outcomes of patients with or without a defunctioning stoma.


Studies and relevant literatures regarding the formation of defunctioning stomas after low anterior resection were searched through PubMed and Embase. The rates of anastomotic leakage and re-operation related to leakage with or without defunctioning stoma were pooled and compared using a meta-analysis. The risk ratios were calculated with 95% confidence intervals to evaluate the influence of defunctioning stomas.


Five recent studies including 878 patients in total were included in this meta-analysis. These studies demonstrated that defunctioning stomas significantly reduced the rate of postoperative anastomotic leakage and reoperation after low anterior resection, the pooled risk ratio was 0.34 (95% CI=0.22-0.53, p<0.00001) and 0.27 (95% CI=0.16-0.48, p<0.00001), respectively.


Defunctioning stomas can be useful to minimize the rate of anastomotic leakage and re-operation related to leakage. Furthermore, anorectal function was not affected. However, the influence of a defunctioning stoma on long-term mortality and the quality of life in patients treated for rectal cancer is inconclusive.

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