Defunctioning Stoma and Anastomotic Leak Rate after Total Mesorectal Excision with Coloanal Anastomosis in the Context of PROCARE

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Anastomotic leakage (AL) after total mesorectal excision is a major adverse event. Construction of a defunctioning stoma (DS) reduces the morbidity of AL. This study aims to illustrate the AL rate and its related morbidity with and without primary stoma formation in the context of a Belgian project, PROCARE.


Between January 2006 and March 2011, 1912 patients who underwent elective TME with colo-anal anastomosis for invasive rectal adenocarcinoma up to 15 cm above the anal verge were registered. A primary DS was constructed in 1183 patients (62%). Early clinical AL rate, AL-related re-operation rate, length of stay (LoS), inhospital mortality were analysed.


In patients without leak, mortality was 1.1% and the mean LoS was 14.7 days. AL occurred in 6.5%, varying from 0%-25% between participating centres. In patients with AL, mortality was 4.8% (p < 0.001). In the presence of a primary DS, AL rate was 4.3%, requiring re-operation under narcosis in 78% with no mortality, resulting in a mean LoS of 30.4 days. In the absence of a primary DS, AL rate was 10.2%, requiring re-operation under narcosis in 93% with a mortality of 8.1% and a mean LoS of 33.4 days. Analysis per centre showed a weak relation between percentage of DS construction and AL rate.


Construction of a primary DS significantly reduced the incidence of early AL, re-operation rate, and mortality. Although technical aspects of colo-anal anastomosis are of paramount importance, construction of a DS at primary surgery has to be considered by those teams with high early AL rate and/or high AL related mortality.

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