The purpose of the study was to determine the risk of postoperative complications and the functional outcome after a hand-sewn ileal pouch–anal anastomosis (IPAA) for ulcerative colitis using a single J-shaped pouch design.


Preoperative function, operative morbidity and long-term functional outcome were assessed prospectively in 1310 patients who underwent IPAA between 1981 and 1994 for ulcerative colitis.


Three patients died after operation. Postoperative pelvic sepsis rates decreased from 7 per cent in 1981–1985 to 3 per cent in 1991–1994 (P=0·02). After mean follow-up of 6·5 (range 2–15) years, the mean number of stools was 5 per day and 1 per night. Frequent daytime and night-time incontinence occurred in 7 and 12 per cent of patients respectively, and did not change over a 10-year period. The cumulative probability of suffering at least one episode of ‘clinical’ pouchitis was 18 and 48 per cent at 1 and 10 years and the cumulative probability of pouch failure at 1 and 10 years was 2 and 9 per cent respectively.


These results indicate that increased experience decreases the risk of pouch-related complications and that with time the functional results remain stable, but the failure rate increases. © 1998 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd