Role of resection and primary anastomosis of the left colon in the presence of peritonitis


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Classically a primary colonic anastomosis is not performed in the presence of left colonic peritonitis. Recently there has been a trend towards resection and anastomosis in selected patients, but no prospective study concerning the safety of this approach has been published. The objective of this study was to define the role of intraoperative colonic lavage with resection and primary anastomosis (RPA) in left colonic peritonitis, and to evaluate the differences in outcome in patients with diffuse or localized peritonitis.


Between January 1994 and December 1998, 127 patients underwent emergency operation for a distal large bowel perforation. RPA was the operation of choice and was performed in 61 patients, 38 with localized and 23 with diffuse peritonitis. Septic shock, faecal peritonitis, immunocompromised status and American society of Anesthesiologists grade IV were contraindications to the one-stage procedure. Alternative operations used in high-risk patients were Hartmann's procedure in 55 patients, subtotal colectomy in eight and colostomy in three.


There were two deaths (3 per cent) among 61 patients treated by RPA and one (2 per cent) case of clinical anastomotic dehiscence. Overall morbidity was 39 per cent and the overall mean(s.d.) hospital stay was 18(15) days. No statistical differences were observed between patients with localized and diffuse peritonitis treated by RPA.


RPA may be the operation of choice in selected patients with left colonic diffuse peritonitis. © 2000 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd