Objective To analyze postoperative outcomes, morbidity, and mortality following enterocutaneous fistula (ECF) takedown.
Design, Setting, and Patients Retrospective review of the complete medical records of patients who presented to a single tertiary care referral center from December 24, 1987, to June 18, 2010, and subsequently underwent definitive surgical treatment for ECF originating from the stomach, small bowel, colon, or rectum.
Main Outcome Measures Postoperative fistula recurrence and mortality.
Results A total of 153 patients received operative intervention for ECF. Most ECFs were referred to us from outside institutions (75.2%), high output (52.3%), originating from the small bowel (88.2%), and iatrogenic in cause (66.7%). Successful ECF closure was ultimately achieved in 128 patients (83.7%). Six patients (3.9%) died within 30 days of surgery, and overall 1-year mortality was 15.0%. Postoperative complications occurred in 134 patients, for an overall morbidity rate of 87.6%. Significant risk factors for fistula recurrence were numerous, but postoperative ventilation for longer than 48 hours, organ space surgical site infection, and blood transfusion within 72 hours of surgery carried the most considerable impact (relative risks, 4.87, 4.07, and 3.91, respectively; P < .05). Risk of 1-year mortality was also associated with multiple risk factors, the most substantial of which were postoperative pulmonary and infectious complications. Closure of abdominal fascia was protective against both recurrent ECF and mortality (relative risks, 0.47 and 0.38, respectively; P < .05).
Conclusions Understanding risk factors both associated with and protective against ECF recurrence and postoperative morbidity and mortality is imperative for appropriate ECF management. Closure of abdominal fascia is of utmost importance, and preventing postoperative complications must be prioritized to optimize patient outcomes.