Background: A loop ileostomy is a common adjunct to formation of a low colorectal anastomosis. However, it is not without significant physical and psychological morbidity, and financial cost. Feasibility of early closure during the index admission has previously been reported. This pilot study examines the safety of early closure compared with traditional timing.
Methods: A retrospective audit of consecutive ileostomy closures performed in a tertiary colorectal unit from January 2008 to January 2010. Demographic data, treatment data and complications were collected by a single investigator from a prospective clinical audit database and hospital records. Patients undergoing early closure (within 10 days of the index operation) were compared with the traditional timing group.
Results: A total of 93 patients underwent closure of loop ileostomy during the study period (44 female; 49 male). Median patient age was 61 years. Nineteen patients (20%) underwent early closure. There were six wound infections in the early closure group (32%), and five in the traditional timing group (7%) (P= 0.01). There was no significant difference in other complications between the two groups. There was a significantly shorter overall hospital stay in the early closure group with a median stay of 14 days (range 10–26), and in the traditional timing group a median stay of 17 days (range 7–80) (P= 0.05). Seven patients (9%) in the traditional timing group had ileostomy-related complications.
Conclusion: Early ileostomy closure appears to be associated with an increased wound infection rate but otherwise appears to be a safe alternative to traditional closure in selected patients and may reduce overall hospital stay.