High 1-year complication rate after anterior resection for rectal cancer

H S Snijders, I S Bakker, J W T Dekker, T A Vermeer, E C J Consten, C Hoff, J M Klaase, K Havenga, R A E M Tollenaar, T Wiggers
Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery: Official Journal of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2014, 18 (4): 831-8

BACKGROUND: Surgical options after anterior resection for rectal cancer include a primary anastomosis, anastomosis with a defunctioning stoma, and an end colostomy. This study describes short-term and 1-year outcomes of these different surgical strategies.

METHODS: Patients undergoing surgical resection for primary mid and high rectal cancer were retrospectively studied in seven Dutch hospitals with 1-year follow-up. Short-term endpoints were postoperative complications, re-interventions, prolonged hospital stay, and mortality. One-year endpoints were unplanned readmissions and re-interventions, presence of stoma, and mortality.

RESULTS: Nineteen percent of 388 included patients received a primary anastomosis, 55% an anastomosis with defunctioning stoma, and 27% an end colostomy. Short-term anastomotic leakage was 10% in patients with a primary anastomosis vs. 7% with a defunctioning stoma (P = 0.46). An end colostomy was associated with less severe re-interventions. One-year outcomes showed low morbidity and mortality rates in patients with an anastomosis. Patients with a defunctioning stoma had high (18%) readmissions and re-intervention (12%) rates, mostly due to anastomotic leakage. An end colostomy was associated with unplanned re-interventions due to stoma/abscess problems. During follow-up, there was a 30% increase in patients with an end colostomy.

CONCLUSIONS: This study showed a high 1-year morbidity rate after anterior resection for rectal cancer. A defunctioning stoma was associated with a high risk for late complications including anastomotic leakage. An end colostomy is a safe alternative to prevent anastomotic leakage, but stomal problems cannot be ignored. Selecting low-risk patients for an anastomosis may lead to favorable short- and 1-year outcomes.


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