Importance Total proctocolectomy with ileal pouch–anal anastomosis is considered the procedure of choice for patients requiring elective surgery for ulcerative colitis, but some patients undergoing subtotal colectomy with end ileostomy are satisfied with an ileostomy and do not choose to undergo later pelvic pouch surgery. The need and timing for completion proctectomy in this setting are uncertain.
Objective To assess the long-term fate of the retained rectum compared with the morbidity associated with completion proctectomy in patients who underwent subtotal colectomy for ulcerative colitis.
Design and Setting Retrospective review of a prospective database in an academic medical center.
Participants Patients who underwent subtotal colectomy with ileostomy for ulcerative colitis from July 1, 1990, to December 31, 2010.
Main Outcomes and Measures Proctectomy, surgical complications, and symptoms from the retained rectum.
Results One hundred eight patients underwent subtotal colectomy for ulcerative colitis during the study period: 73 for acute disease, 18 for advanced age and/or comorbidities, and 17 to avoid the risk of sexual dysfunction or infertility. Of these patients, 71 (65.7%) underwent subsequent ileal pouch–anal anastomosis, 2 died of other causes, and 3 were lost to follow-up. Of the remaining 32 patients, 20 chose rectal stump surveillance and 12 underwent elective proctectomy. Median follow-up was 13.8 years. No difference was noted in age, sex, surgical complications, pad use, or urinary dysfunction between the 2 groups. Only 8 of 20 patients in the surveillance group were compliant with follow-up endoscopy, and 13 were able to maintain their rectum; 2 required proctectomy at 11 and 16 years, respectively, for rectal cancer; neither has developed recurrent disease. One patient in each group reported erectile dysfunction.
Conclusions and Relevance Management of the retained rectum after subtotal colectomy remains an important issue even in the era of ileal pouch–anal anastomosis. Considering the risk of rectal cancer, the low success rate of long-term rectal preservation, and the safety of surgery, a more aggressive approach to early completion proctectomy seems justified in this situation.