Long-term consequences of anastomotic leak
after restorative proctectomy
for rectal cancer
, in terms of bowel function and quality of life
, have been poorly delineated.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of anastomotic leak
, when intestinal continuity can still be maintained, on bowel function and quality of life
in patients undergoing rectal cancer
resection with low colorectal or coloanal anastomoses.
From 1980 to 2010, 864 patients undergoing restorative resection for rectal cancers were identified from a prospective cancer database. Anastomotic leak
detected by a combination of clinical, radiographic, and operative means was diagnosed in 52 (6%) patients.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Patients with anastomotic leak
were compared with those without anastomotic leak
for functional outcomes and quality of life
at 1 year and most recent follow-up (mean 3.2 years) by using Short-Form 36 questionnaires (physical and mental component scales) and the Fecal Incontinence Severity Index.
American Society of Anesthesiologists’ class (p
= 0.48), cancer stage (p
= 0.39), and the use of neoadjuvant therapy (p
= 0.4) were similar in the 2 groups. Patients with anastomotic leak
were younger (56 years vs 61 years; p
= 0.007), more likely to be male (82% vs 64%; p
= 0.008), and more likely to have undergone proximal diversion at proctectomy
(51.9% vs 26.6%; p
= 0.001). One year after proctectomy
, patients with anastomotic leak
had worse physical and mental component scores (p
= 0.01), more frequent daytime (p
= 0.001) and nighttime bowel movements (p
= 0.03), and worse control of solid stool (p
= 0.01) in comparison with those without an anastomotic leak
. At most recent follow-up (leak, 3.3 years vs no leak, 2.4 years), patients with an anastomotic leak
reported worse mental component scores and increased use of perineal pads.
CONCLUSION: Anastomotic leak
after restorative resection for rectal cancer
leads to early adverse consequences on bowel function and quality of life
even when anastomotic continuity can be maintained. These findings may help counsel patients and clinicians regarding anticipated outcomes over the long term.