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INTRODUCTION: The utility of prophylactic drainage in colorectal surgery is controversial. The aim of the present article is to study the role of drainage tubes on the management of minor anastomotic dehiscences.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We retrospectively review clinical reports of 18 consecutive patients with anastomotic dehiscence after open elective colorectal surgery. The mean age was 63 years and the male – female ratio was 5:1. Nine (50%) patients underwent re-operation for fecal peritonitis (group A) while the remaining nine (50%) were managed conservatively (group B). The parameters evaluated in both groups were: time of the anastomotic breakdown, clinical findings, amount of fluid drained the day of the dehiscence, diagnostic means used, length of stay and mortality. RESULTS: Anastomotic leakages were observed medially after 3,6 days from surgery in group A and after 5.6 days in group B. The most frequent clinical manifestations were: fecal material through the tubes (88.9%), pelvic pain (88.9%) and fever (77.8%). Patients in group A had a median faecal fluid flow of 235cc the day of the dehiscence and 130cc those in group B. Imaging was employed only in three cases in group A and in all cases in group B. The length of hospital stay was longer in patients treated surgically: 37 days versus 29 in those treated conservatively.
CONCLUSIONS: Minor anastomotic leakages generally occur later than greater ones, they have a milder clinical presentation and can be managed conservatively with the use of drain tubes.