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      Complications in colorectal surgery: risk factors and preventive strategies


      1 , 1 , , 1

      Patient Safety in Surgery

      BioMed Central

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          Open or laparoscopic colorectal surgery comprises of many different types of procedures for various diseases. Depending upon the operation and modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors the intra- and postoperative morbidity and mortality rate vary. In general, surgical complications can be divided into intraoperative and postoperative complications and usually occur while the patient is still in the hospital.


          A literature search (1980-2009) was carried out, using MEDLINE, PubMed and the Cochrane library.


          This review provides an overview how to identify and minimize intra- and postoperative complications. The improvement of different treatment strategies and technical inventions in the recent decade has been enormous. This is mainly attributable to the increase in the laparoscopic approach, which is now well accepted for many procedures. Training of the surgeon, hospital volume and learning curves are becoming increasingly more important to maximize patient safety, surgeon expertise and cost effectiveness. In addition, standardization of perioperative care is essential to minimize postoperative complications.


          This review summarizes the main perioperative complications of colorectal surgery and influencable and non-influencable risk factors which are important to the general surgeon and the relevant specialist as well. In order to minimize or even avoid complications it is crucial to know these risk factors and strategies to prevent, treat or reduce intra- and postoperative complications.

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          Most cited references 110

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          Evidence-based surgical care and the evolution of fast-track surgery.

          Optimization of postoperative outcome requires the application of evidence-based principles of care carefully integrated into a multimodal rehabilitation program. To assess, synthesize, and discuss implementation of "fast-track" recovery programs. Medline MBASE (January 1966-May 2007) and the Cochrane library (January 1966-May 2007) were searched using the following keywords: fast-track, enhanced recovery, accelerated rehabilitation, and multimodal and perioperative care. In addition, the synthesis on the many specific interventions and organizational and implementation issues were based on data published within the past 5 years from major anesthesiological and surgical journals, using systematic reviews where appropriate instead of multiple references of original work. Based on an increasing amount of multinational, multicenter cohort studies, randomized studies, and meta-analyses, the concept of the "fast-track methodology" has uniformly provided a major enhancement in recovery leading to decreased hospital stay and with an apparent reduction in medical morbidity but unaltered "surgery-specific" morbidity in a variety of procedures. However, despite being based on a combination of evidence-based unimodal principles of care, recent surveys have demonstrated slow adaptation and implementation of the fast-track methodology. Multimodal evidence-based care within the fast-track methodology significantly enhances postoperative recovery and reduces morbidity, and should therefore be more widely adopted. Further improvement is expected by future integration of minimal invasive surgery, pharmacological stress-reduction, and effective multimodal, nonopioid analgesia.
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            Survival after laparoscopic surgery versus open surgery for colon cancer: long-term outcome of a randomised clinical trial.

            Laparoscopic surgery for colon cancer has been proven safe, but debate continues over whether the available long-term survival data justify implementation of laparoscopic techniques in surgery for colon cancer. The aim of the COlon cancer Laparoscopic or Open Resection (COLOR) trial was to compare 3-year disease-free survival and overall survival after laparoscopic and open resection of solitary colon cancer. Between March 7, 1997, and March 6, 2003, patients recruited from 29 European hospitals with a solitary cancer of the right or left colon and a body-mass index up to 30 kg/m(2) were randomly assigned to either laparoscopic or open surgery as curative treatment in this non-inferiority randomised trial. Disease-free survival at 3 years after surgery was the primary outcome, with a prespecified non-inferiority boundary at 7% difference between groups. Secondary outcomes were short-term morbidity and mortality, number of positive resection margins, local recurrence, port-site or wound-site recurrence, and blood loss during surgery. Neither patients nor health-care providers were blinded to patient groupings. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00387842. During the recruitment period, 1248 patients were randomly assigned to either open surgery (n=621) or laparoscopic surgery (n=627). 172 were excluded after randomisation, mainly because of the presence of distant metastases or benign disease, leaving 1076 patients eligible for analysis (542 assigned open surgery and 534 assigned laparoscopic surgery). Median follow-up was 53 months (range 0.03-60). Positive resection margins, number of lymph nodes removed, and morbidity and mortality were similar in both groups. The combined 3-year disease-free survival for all stages was 74.2% (95% CI 70.4-78.0) in the laparoscopic group and 76.2% (72.6-79.8) in the open-surgery group (p=0.70 by log-rank test); the difference in disease-free survival after 3 years was 2.0% (95% CI -3.2 to 7.2). The hazard ratio (HR) for disease-free survival (open vs laparoscopic surgery) was 0.92 (95% CI 0.74-1.15). The combined 3-year overall survival for all stages was 81.8% (78.4-85.1) in the laparoscopic group and 84.2% (81.1-87.3) in the open-surgery group (p=0.45 by log-rank test); the difference in overall survival after 3 years was 2.4% (95% CI -2.1 to 7.0; HR 0.95 [0.74-1.22]). Our trial could not rule out a difference in disease-free survival at 3 years in favour of open colectomy because the upper limit of the 95% CI for the difference just exceeded the predetermined non-inferiority boundary of 7%. However, the difference in disease-free survival between groups was small and, we believe, clinically acceptable, justifying the implementation of laparoscopic surgery into daily practice. Further studies should address whether laparoscopic surgery is superior to open surgery in this setting.
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              Early enteral feeding versus "nil by mouth" after gastrointestinal surgery: systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials.

              To determine whether a period of starvation (nil by mouth) after gastrointestinal surgery is beneficial in terms of specific outcomes. Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials comparing any type of enteral feeding started within 24 hours after surgery with nil by mouth management in elective gastrointestinal surgery. Three electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane controlled trials register) were searched, reference lists checked, and letters requesting details of unpublished trials and data sent to pharmaceutical companies and authors of previous trials. Anastomotic dehiscence, infection of any type, wound infection, pneumonia, intra-abdominal abscess, length of hospital stay, and mortality. Eleven studies with 837 patients met the inclusion criteria. In six studies patients in the intervention group were fed directly into the small bowel and in five studies patients were fed orally. Early feeding reduced the risk of any type of infection (relative risk 0.72, 95% confidence interval 0.54 to 0.98, P=0.036) and the mean length of stay in hospital (number of days reduced by 0.84, 0.36 to 1.33, P=0.001). Risk reductions were also seen for anastomotic dehiscence (0.53, 0.26 to 1.08, P=0.080), wound infection, pneumonia, intra-abdominal abscess, and mortality, but these failed to reach significance (P>0.10). The risk of vomiting was increased among patients fed early (1.27, 1.01 to 1.61, P=0.046). There seems to be no clear advantage to keeping patients nil by mouth after elective gastrointestinal resection. Early feeding may be of benefit. An adequately powered trial is required to confirm or refute the benefits seen in small trials.

                Author and article information

                Patient Saf Surg
                Patient Safety in Surgery
                BioMed Central
                25 March 2010
                : 4
                : 5
                [1 ]Department of Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, University Hospital of Zürich, Switzerland
                Copyright ©2010 Kirchhoff et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.




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