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This study compares primary resection with anastomosis and Hartmann's procedure in an adult population with acute colonic diverticulitis.Comparative studies published between 1984 and 2004 of primary resection with anastomosisvs.Hartmann's procedure were included. The primary end point was postoperative mortality. Secondary end points included surgical and medical morbidity, operative time, and length of postoperative hospitalization. Random effects model was used and sensitivity analysis was performed.Fifteen studies, including 963 patients (57 percent primary resection with anastomoses, 43 percent Hartmann's procedures), were analyzed. Overall mortality was significantly reduced with primary resection and anastomosis (4.9vs.15.1 percent; odds ratio = 0.41). Subgroup analysis of trials matched for emergency operations showed significantly decreased mortality with primary resection and anastomosis (7.4vs.15.6 percent; odds ratio = 0.44). No significant difference in mortality was observed in trials matched for severity of peritonitis Hinchey > 2 (14.1vs.14.4 percent; odds ratio = 0.85). Sensitivity analysis did not reveal significant heterogeneity between the studies for the primary outcome.Patients selected for primary resection and anastomosis have a lower mortality than those treated by Hartmann's procedure in the emergency setting and comparable mortality under conditions of generalized peritonitis (Hinchey > 2). The retrospective nature of the included studies allows for a considerable degree of selection bias that limits robust and clinically sound conclusions. This analysis highlights the need for high-quality randomized trials comparing the two techniques.