Ann Surg Treat Res.  2020 Sep;99(3):171-179. 10.4174/astr.2020.99.3.171.

Tailored treatment of anastomotic leak after rectal cancer surgery according to the presence of a diverting stoma

  • 1Department of Surgery, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital and Medical School, Hwasun, Korea
  • 2Department of Surgery, Chonnam National University Hospital and Medical School, Gwangju, Korea


A variety of clinical features of anastomotic leak occur during the surgical treatment of rectal cancer. However, little information regarding management of leakage is available and treatment guidelines have not been validated. The aim of this study was to evaluate the validity of currently proposed expert opinions on the management of anastomotic leak, after low anterior resection for rectal cancer.
A retrospective analysis was conducted for 1,786 patients who underwent sphincter-preserving surgery for rectal cancer between 2005 and 2015. Clinical outcomes including anastomotic leak-associated mortality and permanent stoma were analyzed.
The overall incidence of anastomotic leak was 6.8% (122 of 1,786), including 6.1% (30 of 493 patients) with diverting stoma and 7.1% (92 of 1,293 patients) without diverting stoma (p = 0.505). A majority of patients without diversion were treated with diverting stoma (76 of 88 patients [86.4%]); 1 mortality (0.8%) was observed in this group. Treatments in the diversion group mainly included conservative treatment, local drainage, and/or transanal repair (26 of 30 patients [86.7%]).The anastomotic failure rates were 20.7% (19 of 92 patients) in the no diversion group and 53.3% (16 of 30 patients) in the diversion group. In the multivariate analysis, preoperative chemoradiotherapy (p < 0.001) and delayed diagnosis of anastomotic leak (p = 0.036) were independent risk factors for permanent stoma.
Management of anastomotic leak should be tailored to individual patients. When anastomotic leak occurred, preoperative chemoradiotherapy and delayed diagnosis seemed to be associated with permanent stoma.


Anastomotic leak; Colorectal surgery; Risk factors; Surgical stoma
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