Anastomotic leaks in colorectal surgery

Nikki Damen, Katrina Spilsbury, Michael Levitt, Gregory Makin, Paul Salama, Patrick Tan, Cheryl Penter, Cameron Platell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Anastomotic leaks are a serious complication of bowel surgery. This study aimed to evaluate the rate and severity, and identify risk factors for leaks in patients undergoing bowel anastomoses. Methods: Prospective evaluation was performed on patients undergoing bowel surgery within a colorectal surgical unit. Anastomotic leak was defined and graded according to severity. A nurse independently collected the information. Stepwise logistic regression analysis was performed. Results: Two thousand three hundred and sixty-three patients underwent 2994 anastomoses. Their median age was 64 years. Seven percent were emergency operations. Anastomotic leak occurred in 82 patients (2.7%). Sixty-three percent of leaks were managed with drainage or re-operation. Ultra-low anterior resection (ULAR) was associated with the highest subgroup leak rate (7.3%). In multivariable analysis, independent predictors for a leak included 'other' pathologies (iatrogenic injury, ischaemia, radiation enteritis) (P = 0.016, odds ratio (OR): 6.3, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.4-28.0), ULAR (P = 0.001, OR: 8.5, 95% CI: 2.3-31.2) and the surgeon (A: P < 0.001, OR: 3.4, 95% CI: 2.1-5.6). Conclusion: Majority of predictors for anastomotic leak were fairly intuitive. Nonetheless, it was relevant to note the importance of the individual surgeon as an independent predictor for leaks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-768
Number of pages6
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • anastomotic leak
  • colorectal surgery
  • effect modifier
  • inflammatory bowel diseases
  • intestinal neoplasm


Dive into the research topics of 'Anastomotic leaks in colorectal surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this