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In order to verify the safety of an ideal length of hospital stay (5-6 days) after open colectomy, we reviewed complications after 371 consecutive, elective colorectal resections for cancer at our institution between April 1991 and December 1998. Specifically, age of the patient, length of hospital stay and when the complication was diagnosed were registered. The median postoperative hospital stay was 9 days (range, 4-34 days). No difference in length of hospital stay was detected in patients ²65 years old versus >65 years old (P = NS). All major complications (anastomotic leak, intestinal bleeding, intestinal occlusion, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary edema, stroke, angina pectoris, and fascial dehiscence) were diagnosed before the fifth postoperative day (P <0,05).