Hand-sewn coloanal anastomosis for low rectal cancer: technique and long-term outcome

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This study compared the operative outcome and long-term survival of three types of hand-sewn coloanal anastomosis (CAA) for low rectal cancer.


Patients presenting with low rectal cancer at a single centre between 2006 and 2014 were classified into three types of hand-sewn CAA: type 1 (supra-anal tumours undergoing transabdominal division of the rectum with transanal mucosectomy); type 2 (juxta-anal tumours, undergoing partial intersphincteric resection); and type 3 (intra-anal tumours, undergoing near-total intersphincteric resection with transanal mesorectal excision).


Seventy-one patients with low rectal cancer underwent CAA: 17 type 1; 39 type 2; and 15 type 3. The median age of patients was 61.6 years, with a male/female ratio of 2:1. Neoadjuvant therapy was given to 56 (79%) patients. R0 resection was achieved in 69 (97.2%) patients. Adverse events occurred in 25 (35.2%) of the 71 patients with a higher complication rate in type 1 vs type 2 vs type 3 (47.1% vs 38.5% vs 13.3%, respectively; P = 0.035). Anastomotic separation was identified in six (8.5%) patients and pelvic haematoma/seroma in five (7%); two (8.3%) female patients developed a recto–vaginal fistula. Ten (14.1%) patients were indefinitely diverted, with a trend towards higher long-term anastomotic failure in type 1 vs type 2 vs type 3 (17.6% vs 15.5% vs 6.7%). The type of anastomosis did not influence the overall or disease-free survival.


CAA is a safe technique in which anorectal continuity can be preserved either as a primary restorative option in elective cases of low rectal cancer or as a salvage procedure following a failed stapled anastomosis with a less successful outcome in the latter. CAA has acceptable morbidity with good long-term survival in carefully selected patients.

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