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Abstract

Background:

Several surgical procedures have been used to treat idiopathic megabowel. A structured approach to the surgical management of megarectum/colon is reported.

Methods:

Twenty-eight consecutive patients with megabowel referred for surgery were reviewed. All patients had conservative treatment for 6 months. Those failing to improve underwent full-thickness biopsy of the anorectal junction, anorectal physiology studies, colonic transit studies and evacuation proctography. Surgery involved excision of the abnormal large bowel and formation of an anastomosis (coloanal or ileoanal) using ‘normal’ bowel identified either by a defunctioning stoma or colonic motility studies.

Results:

Eight patients responded to conservative management. Two patients were lost to follow-up and one died from unrelated causes. Two of the 17 patients who underwent full-thickness biopsy were cured by the procedure. Anorectal physiology, colonic transit and evacuation studies did not aid selection of the surgical procedure performed in 15 patients: proctectomy and coloanal anastomosis (six), restorative proctocolectomy (three), panproctocolectomy (one) and defunctioning stoma (five). At a median follow-up of 3·6 years, 13 of 15 evaluable patients had a satisfactory outcome.

Conclusion:

Approximately 40 per cent of patients with megabowel referred for surgery responded to conservative treatment. The remaining patients may be treated successfully by surgery. The use of either a ‘diagnostic’ defunctioning stoma or colonic motility studies may aid in the choice of surgical procedure. © 2001 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd