Retrospective study in a single unit: outcomes of delays in reversal of loop ileostomy




Loop ileostomy, Colorectal surgery, Reversal of ileostomy


Background: Formation of loop ileostomy is common after anterior resection to reduce the sequalae of an anastomosis leak. Delays to reversal of ileostomy is associated with complications.

Methods: Retrospective study between 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2023. Patients were included: >18 years old, loop ileostomy formed as part of anterior resection surgery (benign and malignant). Exclusion criteria: loop ileostomy performed during other colonic resections, patients with inflammatory bowel disease, de-functioning ileostomy for obstructions. Primary outcome measures included complications associated with delayed closure of loop ileostomy and readmissions after reversal surgery. Secondary measures included reasons for delay to surgery, complications prior to reversal surgery, and morbidity and mortality associated with it.

Results: 135 patients were included. 85.9% of patients experienced delays in reversal surgery. Those without delays in surgery had higher rate of stoma-related complications (p=0.002). Delays were due to a long waitlist (p<0.01) and adjuvant chemotherapy (p=0.598). There were no significant differences in the delays to surgery during COVID pandemic. Delays were associated with higher rate of wound infection (6.04%), post-operative ileus (12.07%), anastomotic leak (1.72%), and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection (3.45%). Handsewn end to end anastomosis was associated with higher proportion of post-operative ileus compared to the stapled side to side anastomosis group.

Conclusions: Reversal of ileostomy within 6 months of index surgery after adjuvant therapy could potentially reduce post-operative complications, and alleviate the burden on our healthcare system in the long run. A stapled side to side anastomosis should also be considered.


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