Prospective evaluation of anorectal function after total mesorectal excision for rectal carcinoma with or without preoperative radiotherapy

P. van Duijvendijk, J. F. M. Slors, C. W. Taat, W. F. van Tets, G. van Tienhoven, H. Obertop, G. E. E. Boeckxstaens

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OBJECTIVE: Anorectal function is greatly disturbed after rectal surgery with or without radiotherapy (RT). To clarify the underlying mechanisms, we designed a prospective study to evaluate the effect of RT and surgery on anorectal function and clinical outcome of patients with a rectal carcinoma. METHODS: Thirty-four patients with a rectal carcinoma participated in this study. They filled out a symptom questionnaire and underwent anal manometry, anal and rectal mucosal electrosensitivity testing, and a rectal barostat, before surgery, 4 and 12 months postoperatively. Thirteen patients were lost to follow-up, 14 underwent surgery alone (total mesorectal excision [TME]), and seven also received RT (RT + TME). RESULTS: Functional outcome was disappointing in both groups, with at 4 months a significantly higher defecation frequency after RT + TME as compared with TME. Anal sphincter function and rectal sensitivity to pressure-controlled distention were not affected by either treatment. Rectal compliance, however, was significantly reduced after RT + TME at 4 and 12 months, resulting in lower rectal volumes at the thresholds for first sensation and desire to defecate. Rectal but not anal mucosal electrosensitivity was higher after TME + RT. CONCLUSIONS: Anorectal function after rectal surgery with or without RT is greatly hampered because of a decreased rectal compliance. After 12 months, partial improvement is shown, especially in the absence of RT. © 2002 by Am. Coll. of Gastroenterology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2282-2289
JournalAmerican journal of gastroenterology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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