BACKGROUND: Bowel function following surgery for diverticulitis has not previously been systematically described.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to document the frequency, severity, and predictors of suboptimal bowel function in patients who have undergone sigmoid colectomy for diverticulitis.
DESIGN: This study is a retrospective analysis.
SETTING: This study was conducted at a large, academic medical center.
PATIENTS: Three hundred twenty-five patients who underwent laparoscopic or open sigmoid colectomy with restoration of intestinal continuity for diverticulitis were included in the study population. Of these, 249 patients (76.6%) returned a 70-question survey incorporating the Fecal Incontinence Severity Index, the Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life Scale, and the Memorial Bowel Function Instrument.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Survey responders and nonresponders were compared with the use of χ2 and t tests. Responders with suboptimal bowel function (fecal incontinence, urgency and/or incomplete emptying) were then compared with those with good outcomes by the use of logistic regression analysis to determine the predictors of poor function.
RESULTS: Of the responders, 24.8% reported clinically relevant fecal incontinence (Fecal Incontinence Severity Index ≥24), 19.6% reported fecal urgency (Memorial Bowel Function Instrument Urgency Subscale ≥4), and 20.8% reported incomplete emptying (Memorial Bowel Function Instrument Emptying Subscale ≥4). On logistic regression analysis, fecal incontinence was predicted by female sex (OR = 2.3, p = 0.008) and the presence of a preoperative abscess (OR = 1.4, p < 0.05). Fecal urgency was associated with female sex (OR = 1.3, p < 0.05) and a diverting ileostomy (OR = 2.1, p < 0.001). Incomplete emptying was associated with female sex (OR = 1.4, p < 0.05) and postoperative sepsis (OR = 1.9, p < 0.05).
LIMITATIONS: This study was limited by the fact that we did not use a nondiverticulitis control group and we had limited preoperative data on the history of bowel impairment symptoms.
CONCLUSION: One-fifth of patients reported fecal urgency, fecal incontinence, or incomplete emptying after surgery for diverticulitis. Despite the limitations of our study, these results are concerning and should be investigated further prospectively.