Outcomes of colostomy takedown following Hartmann's procedure: successful restoration of continuity comes with a high risk of morbidity

Colorectal Dis. 2021 Apr;23(4):967-974. doi: 10.1111/codi.15456. Epub 2021 Jan 19.


Aim: Restoration of bowel continuity following a Hartmann's procedure is a major surgical undertaking associated with significant morbidity. The aim of this study was to review the authors' experience with Hartmann's reversal.

Method: This was a retrospective review of consecutive patients from institutional databases who were selected to undergo open or laparoscopic Hartmann's reversal at two tertiary academic referral centres and a public safety net hospital (2010-2019). The main outcome measure was the rate of successful stoma reversal. Secondary outcomes included 30-day postoperative outcomes and procedural details.

Results: One hundred and fifty patients underwent attempted reversal during the study period, which was successful in all but three patients (98%). Patients were 59% Hispanic and 73% male, with a mean age of 48.7 ± 14.1 years, mean American Society of Anesthesiologists classification of 2.2 ± 0.6 and mean body mass index (BMI) of 28.6 ± 5.3 kg/m2 , with 39% of patients having a BMI > 30 kg/m2 . The mean time interval between the index procedure and reversal was 14.4 months, 53% of the index cases were performed at outside institutions and the most common index diagnoses were diverticulitis (54%), abdominal trauma (16%) and colorectal malignancy (15%). In 22% of cases a laparoscopic approach was used, with 42% of these requiring conversion to open. Proximal diverting stomas were created in 32 patients (21%), of which 94% were reversed. The overall morbidity rate was 54%, comprising ileus (32%), wound infection (15%) and anastomotic leak (6%), with a major morbidity rate (Clavien-Dindo ≥ 3) of 23%.

Conclusion: Hartmann's reversal remains a highly morbid procedure. Our results suggest that operative candidates can be successfully reversed, but there is significant morbidity associated with restoration of intestinal continuity, particularly in obese patients. A laparoscopic approach may decrease morbidity in selected patients but such cases have a high conversion rate.

Keywords: colorectal surgery; hartmann's; morbidity; surgical outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / adverse effects
  • Colostomy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies