Purpose: Total abdominal colectomy with ileorectal anastomosis has been the procedure of choice for patients with the established diagnosis of colonic inertia. Previous studies with a limited follow-up of only one to two years have shown acceptable results and a high rate of patient satisfaction. The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term results of total abdominal colectomy in these patients in terms of complications, bowel function, and overall patient satisfaction.
Methods: Access to the colorectal registry at the Cleveland Clinic Florida identified all patients who underwent total abdominal colectomy for colonic inertia between 1988 and 1993, with a minimum of five-year follow-up. Telephone interviews were designed to assess bowel function, concomitant use of any antidiarrheal medications, postoperative complications, persistence or development of preoperative symptoms such as pain or bloating, and overall satisfaction. Patients were asked to rate their outcome as excellent, good, fair, or poor.
Results: Fifty patients underwent total abdominal colectomy for the diagnosis of colonic inertia. Three patients died of unrelated causes and 30 (60 percent) were available for follow-up. The mean follow-up was 106 months, ranging from 61 to 122 months. All 30 patients reported the outcome of surgery as "excellent." The average frequency of spontaneous bowel movements was 2.5 (range, 1-6) per day. During the period of follow-up, six patients (20 percent) required admission for small-bowel obstruction, three of whom (10 percent) required laparotomy. Four patients complained of mild pelvic pain, only one of whom had the onset of pelvic pain postoperatively that persisted until the time of interview. In the other three patients the pain was present preoperatively but had decreased in intensity since the operation. Two patients (6 percent) still required assistance with bowel movements, one by laxatives and the other by enemas. Only two patients (6 percent) needed antidiarrheal medications to reduce bowel frequency.
Conclusion: This long-term follow-up revealed a high degree of patient satisfaction and very good bowel habits, with an acceptable long-term rate of bowel obstruction. Based on these results, total abdominal colectomy can be recommended to patients with well-established colonic inertia with expectations of sustained benefit up to ten years after surgery.