Aim The aim of the study was to determine the impact of primary full-thickness transanal excision (TAE) on the morbidity rate following radical rectal resection for cancer.
Method Fourteen consecutive patients underwent radical resection for lower third rectal cancer following full-thickness TAE without closure of the defect. They were compared with 25 matched patients from a prospective database of 275 rectal resections who had undergone radical resection without previous TAE for lower third rectal cancer (control group). The confounding factors were: age, sex, body mass index (BMI), classification according to the American Society of Anaesthesiologists, administration of neoadjuvant radiotherapy before rectal resection, tumour stage and type of surgical procedure.
Results There were no deaths. Overall morbidity was 64.3% in the TAE group and 32% in the control group (P = 0.112). Surgical complications were significantly more frequent in the former (57.1%vs 20%; P = 0.048). The frequency of specific surgical site complications, including anastomotic complications and pelvic abscess formation requiring surgical drainage, was significantly higher in the TAE group than in the control group (42.8%vs 8%; P = 0.032). In univariate analysis, the only factors associated with specific surgical site complications were BMI > 27 and TAE before rectal resection.
Conclusion This case-matched study suggests that previous full-thickness TAE increases the risk of surgical complications after radical resection for lower third rectal cancer, including anastomotic dehiscence and pelvic sepsis.