Aim The aim of this observational study was to evaluate surgical workload and complications in patients who had undergone restorative proctocolectomy, through long-term follow-up in one single institution. Method From 1984 to 2006, 304 consecutive patients underwent IPAA. There were 182 stapled and 122 hand-sewn anastomoses. A protective loop ileostomy was established in 256 patients (84%), whereas 48 patients (16%) were without a covering stoma. Results Twenty-nine patients (10%) suffered from early anastomotic leakage. A protective stoma did not prevent early anastomotic dehiscence (p=0.11) or the number of pelvic abscesses (p=0.09). Early complications required 20 laparotomies with creation of a diverting stoma in nine patients. There were 16 (6%) complications related to closure of the loop ileostomy. Sixty-six patients needed an additional re-operation related to the IPAA procedure. There were 20 removals of pouches and three permanent diverting stomas. The estimated removal rate at 20 years of a functioning pouch was 11% (CI +/- 6). Altogether 100 (33%) patients had one or more surgical procedures, excluding dilations of anastomotic strictures and closing of a loop ileostomy. These 100 patients underwent 187 surgical procedures. The estimated rate of a first re-operation due to complications was 52% (CI +/- 16) in 20 years. Hand-sewn anastomoses had similar complications and failure rates as stapled anastomoses. Conclusions More than half of patients operated with restorative proctocolectomy will need surgical intervention within 20 years and the failure rate is more than 10%. The high risk of complications and failure inherent in the procedure should not be ignored.
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