Objective: Actuarial analysis of stoma complications (problematic stomas) is lacking. The objectives of this audit were: to identify the incidence of stoma complications within the UK; to highlight any dissimilarity of incidence from centre to centre; to ascertain if the height of the stoma (distance of stoma lumen from the skin) at the time of fashioning is a predisposing factor to problems; and finally to initiate much needed research.
Method: Commencing 1st January 2005, stoma care services nationwide (256) were invited to audit prospectively their next 50 enteric stomas or for a period of 1 year which ever came first. The definition of a problematic stoma being one, which needed one or more accessories to keep the patient clean and dry for a minimum period of 24 h. The incident is to have happened within 3 weeks of surgery. Factors taken into account were: type of stoma, height of stoma within 48 h of surgery; emergency or elective procedure, problem identified, BMI, gender and underlying diagnosis of the patient. The identities of the participating centres are confidential.
Results: Of the 256 hospital-based stoma care services within the UK, 93 (36%) participated. A total of 3970 stomas were recorded, of which 1329 (34%) were identified as problematic. Sixty-two centres reported 45-50 stomas with a range of complications 6-96%. The loop ileostomy was found to be the stoma which causes most problems. A stoma of <10 mm is a predisposing factor to complications and problems are more likely to occur following an emergency procedure. More men than women have stomas formed, but have significantly fewer problems and there is no significant difference between underlying diagnoses.
Conclusion: The stoma height, stoma type and gender of the patient are significant risk factors identified in this audit. The BMI of patient did not affect the outcome. Patients undergoing an emergency procedure are more likely to have a problematic stoma. The significant variation of complications from centre to centre indicates surgical technique as being the key factor in stoma formation and subsequent quality of life for the patient.