Prediction and diagnosis of colorectal anastomotic leakage: A systematic review of literature

Freek Daams, Zhouqiao Wu, Max Jef Lahaye, Johannus Jeekel, Johan Frederik Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Although many studies have focused on the preoperative risk factors of anastomotic leakage after colorectal surgery (CAL), postoperative delay in diagnosis is common and harmful. This review provides a systematic overview of all available literature on diagnostic tools used for CAL. A systematic search of literature was undertaken using Medline, Embase, Cochrane and Web-of-Science libraries. Articles were selected when a diagnostic or prediction tool for CAL was described and tested. Two reviewers separately assessed the eligibility and level of evidence of the papers. Sixty-nine articles were selected (clinical methods: 11, laboratory tests: 12, drain fluid analysis: 12, intraoperative techniques: 22, radiology: 16). Clinical scoring leads to early awareness of probability of CAL and reduces delay of diagnosis. C-reactive protein measurement at postoperative day 3-4 is helpful. CAL patients are characterized by elevated cytokine levels in drain fluid in the very early postoperative phase in CAL patients. Intraoperative testing using the air leak test allows intraoperative repair of the anastomosis. Routine contrast enema is not recommended. If CAL is clinically suspected, rectal contrast-computer tomography is recommended by a few studies. In many studies a "no-test" control group was lacking, furthermore no golden standard for CAL is available. These two factors contributed to a relatively low level of evidence in the majority of the papers. This paper provides a systematic overview of literature on the available tools for diagnosing CAL. The study shows that colorectal surgery patients could benefit from some diagnostic interventions that can easily be performed in daily postoperative care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-26
Number of pages13
JournalWorld Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2014

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