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To report postoperative morbidity after low anterior resection (LAR) and coloanal anastomosis (CAA) for rectal cancer and identify possible risk factors of complications.Coloanal anastomosis after total mesorectal excision (TME) is associated with significant morbidity. Precise data on the specific morbidity and the risk factors are lacking.We analyzed retrospectively 483 consecutive LARs with TME and CAA carried out in a single center between 1996 and 2005. All complications occurring up to 3 months after LAR and up to 3 months after closure of the diverting stoma were graded according to the Dindo classification.Of 483 patients, 164 (33.9%) suffered at least 1 complication, leading to death in 2 (0.4%) patients. Grade III/IV complications occurred in 69 of 483 (14.2%) patients. Thirty-four (7.0%) patients developed leakage of the CAA and 3 patients had leakage of the small bowel anastomosis after stoma closure. Ileostomy closure was carried out after a mean of 88.7 days (36–630) after LAR. The stoma was not closed in 4 of 456 (0.6%) patients. In multivariate analysis, male sex (P = 0.0216) and postoperative transfusion (P = 0.0025) were associated with complications. Medical complications were furthermore associated with previous thrombembolic events (P = 0.0012) and associated surgery at the time of LAR (P = 0.0010). Circumferential tumor localization was predictive of surgical complications (P = 0.0015). The only factor associated with a risk of leakage was transfusion (P = 0.0216).In this series morbidity occurred in 34% and dehiscence of the CAA in 7.0%. Transfusion requirement was an independent risk factor for postoperative complications and anastomotic leakage.