Background: Low anterior resection (LAR) may result in faecal incontinence. This study aimed to identify risk factors for long-term faecal incontinence after total mesorectal excision (TME) with or without preoperative radiotherapy (PRT).
Methods: Between 1996 and 1999, patients with operable rectal cancer were randomized to TME with or without PRT. Eligible patients who underwent LAR were studied retrospectively at 2 years (399 patients) and 5 years (339) after TME.
Results: At 5 years after surgery faecal incontinence was reported by 61.5 per cent of patients who had PRT and 38.8 per cent of those who did not (P < 0.001). Excessive blood loss and height of the tumour were associated with long-term faecal incontinence, but only in patients treated with PRT.
Conclusion: Faecal incontinence is likely to occur after PRT and TME, especially when the perineum is irradiated.
Copyright (c) 2007 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd.