Low anterior resection (LAR) with total mesorectal excision (TME) may be the optimal operation for carcinoma of the mid or lower rectum. Routine formation of a temporary defunctioning stoma has been recommended with TME. The impact of this strategy on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) has not been addressed.
A prospective longitudinal study was conducted among 24 patients undergoing LAR with TME and loop ileostomy for rectal cancer. Clinical outcomes were documented. HRQOL was assessed using Short Form 36 (SF-36). Twenty-three patients undergoing high anterior resection (HAR) for rectosigmoid cancer were studied concurrently to determine the effects of major colorectal resection without a stoma.
Time to resume normal diet, length of stay in hospital and time to return to non-work activities were similar after HAR or LAR with TME and loop ileostomy. Twelve weeks after HAR SF-36 scores were stable or improved compared with preoperative levels. In contrast, 12 weeks after LAR + TME patients had a reduction in physical functioning scores on SF-36. SF-36 scores improved after ileostomy closure. Ileostomy closure increased total hospital stay and time off non-work activities.
LAR with TME and temporary loop ileostomy for rectal cancer results in a long total hospital stay and impairs aspects of HRQOL. Prompt stoma closure should be a priority in these patients. © 2001 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd