Complications in colorectal surgery: risk factors and preventive strategies

Patient Saf Surg. 2010 Mar 25;4(1):5. doi: 10.1186/1754-9493-4-5.


Background: Open or laparoscopic colorectal surgery comprises of many different types of procedures for various diseases. Depending upon the operation and modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors the intra- and postoperative morbidity and mortality rate vary. In general, surgical complications can be divided into intraoperative and postoperative complications and usually occur while the patient is still in the hospital.

Methods: A literature search (1980-2009) was carried out, using MEDLINE, PubMed and the Cochrane library.

Results: This review provides an overview how to identify and minimize intra- and postoperative complications. The improvement of different treatment strategies and technical inventions in the recent decade has been enormous. This is mainly attributable to the increase in the laparoscopic approach, which is now well accepted for many procedures. Training of the surgeon, hospital volume and learning curves are becoming increasingly more important to maximize patient safety, surgeon expertise and cost effectiveness. In addition, standardization of perioperative care is essential to minimize postoperative complications.

Conclusion: This review summarizes the main perioperative complications of colorectal surgery and influencable and non-influencable risk factors which are important to the general surgeon and the relevant specialist as well. In order to minimize or even avoid complications it is crucial to know these risk factors and strategies to prevent, treat or reduce intra- and postoperative complications.