BACKGROUND: The mortality associated with anastomotic leakage (AL) after colonic cancer surgery is high and management often results in permanent fecal diversion. Preservation of bowel continuity in combination with proximal loop diversion (salvage) may reduce the number of permanent ostomies without jeopardizing safety. STUDY DESIGN: This nationwide study used prospective data from the database of the Danish Colorectal Cancer Group, the National Patient Registry, and patient files. Patients with AL requiring surgery (grade C) were categorized according to the type of surgical treatment as anastomotic takedown with an end-ostomy or salvage. Thirty-day mortality, long-term mortality, and permanent ostomy rates were analyzed using multivariable logistic and Cox regression analyses. RESULTS: Anastomotic leakage occurred in 593 of 9,333 patients (6.4%), of whom 507 with grade C were included. Takedown and salvage were undertaken in 433 (85.4%) and 74 (14.6%) patients, respectively. Salvage was performed more frequently for Hinchey I-II or minor anastomotic defects and resulted in increased likelihood of stoma reversal (adjusted hazard ratio 3.24, 95% CI 2.04 to 5.16, p < 0.001), corresponding to a risk of permanent fecal diversion of 16.8%, compared with 54.5% after takedown. Adjusted mortality rates were comparable between the groups. A second episode of AL after stoma reversal occurred more frequently in patients with end-ileostomies (10 of 64) than in patients with end-colostomies (1 of 64) or loop-ileostomies (3 of 36), p = 0.017. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with Hinchey I-II and small anastomotic defect were safely managed by anastomotic salvage, which reduced the risk of permanent fecal diversion. Anastomotic salvage is a viable option for this subset of patients.
Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 2014, Vol 218, Issue 5, p. 940-9