Endoscopic vacuum-assisted surgical closure (EVASC) of anastomotic defects after low anterior resection for rectal cancer; lessons learned

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Background: Endoscopic vacuum-assisted surgical closure (EVASC) is an emerging treatment for AL, and early initiation of treatment seems to be crucial. The objective of this study was to report on the efficacy of EVASC for anastomotic leakage (AL) after rectal cancer resection and determine factors for success. Methods: This retrospective cohort study included all rectal cancer patients treated with EVASC for a leaking primary anastomosis after LAR at a tertiary referral centre (July 2012—April 2020). Early initiation (≤ 21 days) or late initiation of the EVASC protocol was compared. Primary outcomes were healed and functional anastomosis at end of follow-up. Results: Sixty-two patients were included, of whom 38 were referred. Median follow-up was 25 months (IQR 14–38). Early initiation of EVASC (≤ 21 days) resulted in a higher rate of healed anastomosis (87% vs 59%, OR 4.43 [1.25–15.9]) and functional anastomosis (80% vs 56%, OR 3.11 [1.00–9.71]) if compared to late initiation. Median interval from AL diagnosis to initiation of EVASC was significantly shorter in the early group (11 days (IQR 6–15) vs 70 days (IQR 39–322), p < 0.001). A permanent end-colostomy was created in 7% and 28%, respectively (OR 0.18 [0.04–0.93]). In 17 patients with a non-defunctioned anastomosis, and AL diagnosis within 2 weeks, EVASC resulted in 100% healed and functional anastomosis. Conclusion: Early initiation of EVASC for anastomotic leakage after rectal cancer resection yields high rates of healed and functional anastomosis. EVASC showed to be progressively more successful with the implementation of highly selective diversion and early diagnosis of the leak. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8280-8289
Number of pages10
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number11
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Anastomotic leakage
  • Anastomotic salvage
  • Endoscopic vacuum therapy
  • Rectal cancer
  • Redo-anastomosis
  • Total mesorectal excision
  • Transanal closure

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