Incidence of anastomotic leak in patients undergoing elective colon resection without mechanical bowel preparation: our updated experience and two-year review

Am Surg. 2009 Sep;75(9):828-33.


Mechanical bowel preparation before elective colon resection has recently been questioned in the literature. We report a prospective study evaluating the anastomotic leak rate in patients undergoing elective colorectal surgery without preoperative mechanical bowel preparation. One hundred fifty-three patients undergoing elective colon resection from July 2006 to June 2008 were enrolled into this Institutional Review Board-approved study. All patients were operated on by a single surgeon at a single institution. No patients received mechanical bowel preparation. Of the 153 patients enrolled, 51.6 per cent had a colorectostomy, 32 per cent had an ileocolostomy, 10.4 per cent had a colocolostomy, 5.2 per cent had an ileoanal anastomosis, and 0.6 per cent had an ileorectostomy performed. A total of eight patients (5.2%) developed an anastomotic leak. Of these patients, four required reoperation, three were managed with percutaneous drainage, and one was managed with antibiotics alone. Five of the eight patients who developed an anastomotic leak had significant preoperative comorbidities, including neoadjuvant radiation therapy, diabetes mellitus, end-stage renal disease, prior anastomotic leak, and tobacco use. Elective colon resection can be performed safely without preoperative mechanical bowel preparation. Vigilance for anastomotic leak must be maintained at all times, especially in patients with comorbidities that predispose to anastomotic leak.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / adverse effects
  • Colectomy / methods*
  • Colon / surgery*
  • Colonic Diseases / surgery*
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Ileum / surgery*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Preoperative Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rectum / surgery*
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / epidemiology*
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / prevention & control
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Failure
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult