BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: A low anterior resection procedure for removing a rectal tumor aims to preserve the sphincter and avoid a permanent stoma. Permanent stomas are primarily necessary in cases of poor anorectal function and local recurrence. The aim of this study was to clarify whether anastomosis-related complications and local recurrence influenced the rate of permanent stomas in a long-term follow-up.
METHODS: Of 1032 consecutive patients with rectal cancer, 397 were treated by low anterior resection (R0 and R1 resections) between 1985 and 2007 at the Department of General and Abdominal Surgery of the University Hospital, Mainz (Germany). All patient data were collected prospectively. A retrospective, multivariate analysis was conducted to determine factors that influenced the occurrence of delayed and nonreversal of defunctioning stoma, the rate of repeat stoma after closure, and the need for a permanent stoma in patients whose stomas were not initially defunctioning.
RESULTS: A defunctioning stoma was created in 292 of 397 patients (74%); 12% of stomas were not reversible (33/279 that survived the operation >90 d); 11% (28/246) required a repeat stoma after stoma closure; 10% (10/105) of patients whose stomas were not initially defunctioning received a late permanent stoma. The overall rate of a permanent stoma was 18%. The main reasons for a permanent stoma were anastomosis-related complications and local recurrence. Risk factors for anastomosis-related complication were male gender, low tumor site, and tumor stage. Despite a significant reduction in local recurrence rates from 1997 to 2007, the rate of creating a permanent stoma did not change.
CONCLUSIONS: The possibility of a permanent stoma should be considered when planning surgery for treating rectal cancer. It might be preferable in older patients, in poor condition and with more advanced rectal cancers, to consider an abdominoperineal resection or Hartmann procedure instead of a low anterior resection.