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A tension-free anastomosis in a restorative proctocolectomy requires sufficient length of small-bowel mesentery. To ensure adequate length, it has been proposed that the superior mesenteric artery be divided and the right colon marginal vascular arcade be preserved. This study was designed to evaluate the influence of mesenteric lengthening techniques on the need for a stoma and on early outcomes after restorative proctocolectomy.Records of patients who had a restorative proctocolectomy between January 1998 and October 2003 were reviewed. Patient and disease characteristics, operative techniques and findings, the need for a stoma, and postoperative complications were recorded.In one patient a restorative proctocolectomy was not possible. The remaining 220 patients were divided into two groups: Group A (inflammatory bowel disease; n = 123) and Group B (noninflammatory bowel disease; n = 97). Sixty-nine patients (31.4 percent) had major comorbidities. A lengthening technique was performed in 120 patients (54.5 percent) by dividing the ileocecal artery (n = 37) or the superior mesenteric artery (n = 88); 5 patients had only the marginal vascular arcade preserved. An ileostomy was not required in 116 patients (52.7 percent). In multivariate analysis, in Group B the only surgical variable influencing the need for an ileostomy was preservation of the marginal vascular arcade (50vs.14.7 percent;P< 0.0005). Complications occurred in 41 patients (18.6 percent), more frequently for those in GroupA and for patients receiving steroids (23.6vs.12.4 percent,P= 0.012; 10.4vs.6.8 percent,P= 0.0172).The use of mesentery lengthening techniques allows a restorative proctocolectomy to be performed in almost all patients without increasing morbidity and may reduce the number of covering stomas. Because division of the ileocecal and/or superior mesenteric arteries may be required, preservation of the marginal vascular arcade is essential whenever possible.