What Is the Risk for a Permanent Stoma After Low Anterior Resection of the Rectum for Cancer? A Six-Year Follow-Up of a Multicenter Trial

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The aim of this study was to assess the risk for permanent stoma after low anterior resection of the rectum for cancer.


In a nationwide multicenter trial 234 patients undergoing low anterior resection of the rectum were randomly assigned to a group with defunctioning stomas (n = 116) or a group with no defunctioning stomas (n = 118). The median age was 68 years, 45% of the patients were women, 79% had preoperative radiotherapy, and 4% had International Union Against Cancer cancer stage IV. The patients were analyzed with regard to the presence of a permanent stoma, the type of stoma, the time point at which the stoma was constructed or considered as permanent, and the reasons for obtaining a permanent stoma. Median follow-up was 72 months (42-108). One patient with a defunctioning stoma who died within 30 days after the rectal resection was excluded from the analysis.


During the study period 19% (45/233) of the patients obtained a permanent stoma: 25 received an end sigmoid stoma and 20 received a loop ileostomy. The end sigmoid stomas were constructed at a median of 22 months (1-71) after the low anterior resection of the rectum, and the loop ileostomies were considered as permanent at a median of 12.5 months (1-47) after the initial rectal resection. The reasons for loop ileostomy were metastatic disease (n = 6), unsatisfactory anorectal function (n = 6), deteriorated general medical condition (n = 3), new noncolorectal cancer (n = 2), patient refusal of further surgery (n = 2), and chronic constipation (n = 1). Reasons for end sigmoid stoma were unsatisfactory anorectal function (n = 22) and urgent surgery owing to anastomotic leakage (n = 3). The risk for permanent stomas in patients with symptomatic anastomotic leakage was 56% (25/45) compared with 11% (20/188) in those without symptomatic anastomotic leakage (P < .001).


One patient of 5 ended up with a permanent stoma after low anterior resection of the rectum for cancer, and half of the patients with a permanent stoma had previous symptomatic anastomotic leakage.

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