The aim of this study was to assess the effect of transanal drainage (TD) tube (a Foley catheter) on the anastomotic leak (AL) rate after laparoscopic sphincter-saving surgery for rectal cancer (SSS).
A prospective study was conducted on, all consecutive patients undergoing SSS at our institution between June 2017 and October 2018. All patients had TD for at least 4 days after surgery and constituted the TD group. The patients from TD group were matched to patients who underwent SSS without TD between January 2015 and May 2017 (no-TD group) according to age, sex, body mass index, neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy, mesorectal excision (total vs partial), and type of anastomosis (stapled vs hand sewn and side-to-end versus end-to-end). The primary endpoint was the AL rate, including both clinical and radiological AL.
A total of 258 patients were included. Eighty-nine patients (34%) had a TD tube. After matching, 72 patients were included in each group. Mean TD duration was 3.9 [2.0–5.9] days. No significant differences between groups were observed in the rates of overall AL: 25/72 (35%) (TD) vs 17/72 (22%) (no-TD), (p = 0.14), clinical AL: 13/72 (18%) (TD) vs 7/72 (10%) (no-TD), (p = 0.23), and asymptomatic radiological AL: 12/72 (17%) (TD) vs 9/72 (13%) (no-TD), (p = 0.64). Multivariate analysis showed that male sex (OR 2.92, 95% CI [1.04–8.24]) and preoperative radiochemotherapy (OR 5.66, 95% CI [1.36–23.53]) were associated with AL.
Our case-matched study suggested that a TD tube does not reduce the AL rate after laparoscopic sphincter-saving surgery for rectal cancer.