The Incidence of Low Anterior Resection Syndrome as Assessed in an International Randomized Controlled Trial (MRC/NIHR ROLARR)

Ann Surg. 2021 Dec 1;274(6):e1223-e1229. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000003806.


Objective: To investigate the incidence of LARS in patients undergoing elective anterior resection within the MRC/NIHR ROLARR trial and to explore perioperative variables that might be associated with major LARS.

Summary background data: Sphincter-preserving rectal cancer surgery is frequently accompanied by defaecatory dysfunction known as Low anterior resection syndrome (LARS). This is distressing for patients and is an unmet clinical challenge.

Methods: An international, retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing anterior resection within the ROLARR trial was undertaken. Trial participants with restoration of gastrointestinal continuity and free from disease recurrence completed the validated LARS questionnaire between August 2015 and April 2017. The primary outcome was the incidence of LARS and secondary outcome was severity (minor versus major).

Results: LARS questionnaires were received from 132/155 (85%) eligible patients. The median time from surgery to LARS assessment was 1065 days (range 174-1655 d). The incidence of LARS was 82.6% (n = 109/132), which was minor in 26/132 (19.7%) and major in 83/132 (62.9%). The most common symptoms were incontinence to flatus (n = 86/132; 65.2%) and defaecatory clustering (88/132; 66.7%). In a multivariate model, predictors of major LARS were: 1 cm decrease in tumor height above the anal verge (OR = 1.290, 95% CI: 1.101,1.511); and an ASA grade greater than 1 (OR = 2.920, 95% CI: 1.239, 6.883). Treatment allocation (laparoscopic vs robotic) did not predict major LARS.

Conclusions: LARS is a common after rectal cancer surgery and patients should be appropriately counselled preoperatively, particularly before surgery for low tumors or in comorbid populations.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Laparoscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Risk Factors
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syndrome