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Radiographic Findings of Anastomotic Leaks

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Although computed tomography (CT) scans play an important role in the diagnosis and management of anastomotic leaks (AL), there is no consensus on what radiographic findings are associated with AL. The purpose of this study is to identify the most common CT scan findings associated with AL and whether the amount of extraluminal air or the density of extraluminal fluid can be correlated with the presence of an AL. A retrospective chart review of 210 patients with anastomotic leaks from 2003 to 2010 at Mount Sinai Medical Center was performed. Eighty-six patients fit our criteria and were included. All CT scans were reread by an independent radiologist not involved with patient care. Our study included 59 per cent men and 41 per cent women with a mean age of 51 years. Diagnoses included inflammatory bowel disease (53%), malignancy (21%), and diverticulitis (12%). One hundred per cent of the patients had one of three findings: extraluminal air (92%), extraluminal fluid (88%), or extravasation of contrast (32%). Eighty-one per cent (70/86) had both fluid and air simultaneously. Extraluminal air was seen in 79 patients. The estimated amounts of extraluminal air were as follows: 0 to 25 mL (49%), 26 to 500 mL (41%), 500 to 1000 mL (5%), and more than 1000 mL (5%). The Hounsfield unit (HU) measurements of the fluid ranged from 3 to 633 HUs. The most common CT findings associated with AL are pneumoperitoneum and extraluminal fluid, including extravasation of contrast, which can be seen in up to 100 per cent of patients. The amount of estimated extraluminal air and density of fluid collection have no prognostic value in predicting AL.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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