Purpose: Ileal pouch-anal anastomosis is widely claimed to have replaced total proctocolectomy with ileostomy as the "procedure of choice" for ulcerative colitis, largely on the basis of a perceived improved quality of life. There exists relatively little support for this assertion in the literature. Our aim was to determine if educated patients choosing total proctocolectomy with ileostomy have a similar quality of life as with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis.
Methods: All patients with ulcerative colitis referred to a single surgeon and deemed an appropriate surgical candidate were educated and then offered ileal pouch-anal anastomosis or total proctocolectomy with ileostomy. Age, gender, and complications (including pouchitis) were recorded prospectively, and all patients were questioned regarding functional outcome and level of satisfaction. They were then asked to complete a slightly modified Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire, which was analyzed by categoric and overall scores.
Results: Sixty-seven patients underwent elective surgery for ulcerative colitis during the study period. Fifty-five patients chose ileal pouch-anal anastomosis, and 12 had total proctocolectomy with ileostomy. The groups were similar except for younger age and longer follow-up in the ileal pouch-anal anastomosis group. Patients undergoing ileal pouch-anal anastomosis had significantly more short-term or long-term complications (49 vs. 8 percent), with pouchitis being the most frequent complication. There was no difference in level of satisfaction between the two groups, and no patient in either group wishes they had undergone the other procedure. There was no difference in the overall or any categoric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire score.
Conclusion: Patient satisfaction with both procedures was similarly high. Patients who undergo ileal pouch-anal anastomosis can expect a high level of satisfaction, with a good quality of life. However, educated patients choosing an ileostomy can achieve the same quality of life, without the higher complication rate associated with a pelvic pouch.