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Rectal cancer surgery without mechanical bowel preparation

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Eight randomized clinical trials and two meta‐analyses recently questioned the value of preoperative mechanical bowel preparation (MBP) in colorectal surgery. However, very few patients having rectal surgery were included in these studies. The aim of this study was to assess whether rectal cancer surgery can be performed safely without MBP.


The postoperative course was assessed in 52 consecutive unselected patients who underwent rectal cancer resection and sphincter preservation without MBP. This group was compared with a group of 61 matched patients in whom MBP was performed before surgery.


The overall morbidity rate after rectal resection was higher in patients who had MBP than in those who did not (51 versus 31 per cent; P = 0·036). The incidence of symptomatic anastomotic leakage was similar in the two groups (8 versus 10 per cent respectively; P = 1·000). Although not significant, peritonitis occurred more frequently in the absence of MBP (2 versus 6 per cent; P = 0·294). A trend towards a higher rate of infectious complications was noted in patients who had MBP (23 versus 12 per cent; P = 0·141), but MBP was associated with a significantly higher rate of infectious extra‐abdominal complications (11 versus 0 per cent; P = 0·014). Mean hospital stay was significantly longer in the MBP group (12 versus 10 days; P = 0·022).


Elective rectal surgery for cancer without MBP may be associated with reduced postoperative morbidity. Copyright © 2007 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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