Treatment possibilities for low anterior resection syndrome: a review of the literature

Int J Colorectal Dis. 2018 Mar;33(3):251-260. doi: 10.1007/s00384-017-2954-x. Epub 2018 Jan 8.


Aim: Up to 80% of patients after low anterior resection, experience (low) anterior resection syndrome (ARS/LARS). However, there is no standard treatment option currently available. This systemic review aims to summarize treatment possibilities for LARS after surgical treatment of rectal cancer in the medical literature.

Methods: Embase, PubMed, and the Cochrane Library were searched using the terms anterior resection syndrome, low anterior resection, colorectal/rectal/rectum, surgery/operation, pelvic floor rehabilitation, biofeedback, transanal irrigation, sacral nerve stimulation, and tibial nerve stimulation. All English language articles presenting original patient data regarding treatment and outcome of LARS were included. We focused on the effects of different treatment modalities for LARS. The Jadad score was used to assess the methodological quality of trials. The quality scale ranges from 0 to 5 points, with a score ≤ 2 indicating a low quality report, and a score of ≥ 3 indicating a high quality report.

Results: Twenty-one of 160 studies met the inclusion criteria, of which 8 were reporting sacral nerve stimulation, 6 were designed to determine pelvic floor rehabilitation, 3 studies evaluated the effect of transanal irrigation, 2-percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation, and the rest of the studies assessed probiotics and 5-HT3 receptor antagonists for LARS in patients who had undergone rectal resection. All except one study were poor quality reports according to the Jadad score.

Conclusions: LARS treatment still carries difficulties because of a lack of well-conducted, randomized multicenter trials. Well-performed randomized controlled trials are needed.

Keywords: Low anterior resection; Low anterior resection syndrome; Rectal cancer surgery; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anal Canal / surgery
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Humans
  • Pelvic Floor / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, Serotonin / metabolism
  • Rectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Rectum / surgery
  • Serotonin Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Syndrome
  • Therapeutic Irrigation


  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Serotonin Antagonists