Research Article|Articles in Press

Factors predicting successful resolution and long-term outcomes of benign anastomotic strictures following rectal cancer surgery

Published:March 02, 2023DOI:



      Although advances in treatment have improved sphincter-preservation rates in rectal cancer, the incidence of benign anastomotic strictures has also increased. This retrospective single-institution study sought to determine the incidence of benign anastomotic strictures and the factors associated with their successful resolution following treatment.


      From January 2010 to December 2019, consecutive patients undergoing endoscopic dilatation and/or surgery for benign anastomotic strictures developing after radical sphincter-sparing resections for rectal cancer were evaluated. To model the relationship between outcomes and potential independent variables, sequential univariate and multivariate analyses were performed using binary logistic regression.


      Of 2069 rectal cancer patients undergoing sphincter-preserving surgery, benign anastomotic strictures were identified in 110 (5.3%). Mean age was 48.2 ± 13.98 years; 73.6% were male. Distal tumor-extent was within 6 cm of the anal verge in 60%; 80.9% patients received neoadjuvant radiotherapy. Surgical approach in 71.8% was open, 74.5% being anterior or low anterior resections and 70.9% of anastomoses stapled. Covering stoma was performed in 91.8%. On follow-up, strictures of median length 4 cm were identified at median 3 cm from the anal verge. Endoscopic dilatation was offered in 89.1%, whereas 9.1% required redo-surgery. Overall, 49.1% experienced sustained stricture-resolution with dilatation and 45.4% required re-intervention. At last follow-up, 72.7% were stoma-free. On multivariate analysis, good performance status, absence of anastomotic leak, and short-segment strictures predicted successful stricture-resolution.


      Endoscopic dilatation is an effective first-line therapy, with redo anastomosis used to salvage those failing conservative measures. Adverse performance status, anastomotic leak and greater stricture length may predict detrimental outcomes in terms of stricture resolution.


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