Results of reoperations in colorectal anastomotic strictures

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The incidence of colorectal anastomotic strictures varies from 3 to 30 percent. Most of these anastomotic strictures are simple narrowings shorter than 1 cm that can be successfully treated by dilation or endoscopic alternatives. However, up to 28 percent of patients will require surgical correction. This can be technically difficult, with the possibility of a permanent colostomy. This study reports the outcomes after operative treatment of severe strictures of colorectal anastomoses.


From August 1992 to October 1996, 27 patients were referred for surgical treatment of severe rectal anastomotic strictures. The reasons for the initial surgery were as follows: rectal cancer (13), diverticular disease (7), Hirschsprung's disease (2), rectal endometriosis (2), uterine carcinoma with rectal invasion (1), ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm with rectosigmoid necrosis (1), and rectovaginal fistula (1). There were 15 (56 percent) stapled anastomoses, and 21 (78 percent) patients had developed a postoperative leak.


The median time between initial surgery and diagnosis of the stenosis was 7.2 (range, 1-24) months and between the last operation and referral was 15.1 (range, 1-44) months. Stenosis was located at a mean distance of 9.5 (range, 4-15) cm from the anal verge. Eleven patients (41 percent) had been unsuccessfully dilated before referral. Surgical correction of the stenosis required 7 colorectal anastomoses for upper rectal anastomotic strictures and 20 coloanal anastomoses for middle and lower rectal strictures (19 Soave's procedures and 1 colon J-pouch-anal anastomosis). Intestinal continuity was restored in all cases. After a mean follow-up of 28.7±14 months, no recurrences were detected and functional results were satisfactory.


Resection of the stenosis and construction of a new colorectal anastomosis can be performed successfully for upper rectal anastomotic stricture. For a stenosis located in the middle and lower rectum, Soave's procedure offers a good alternative, with satisfactory long-term functional results. Whichever technique is used, a permanent colostomy should rarely be required.

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