We reviewed our experience with 32 patients who underwent massive intestinal resection to determine when intestinal continuity should be maintained. An enterostomy was created in 21 patients (66 percent) at the initial resection because of questionable bowel viability and an unstable condition or the need for colonic anastomosis. Intestinal continuity was restored in only 20 percent of these patients. In 11 patients (34 percent), intestinal continuity was maintained at the time of resection. Only four of these patients (36 percent) had a satisfactory long-term outcome. Overall, intestinal continuity was maintained in 10 of the 22 patients (45 percent) followed over the long-term. Three quarters of patients with intestinal remnants shorter than 3 feet had an enterostomy. We believe intestinal continuity should be restored at the time of massive resection only in carefully selected patients when bowel viability is ensured, remnant length is greater than 3 feet, and a colonic anastomosis is not required. Maintaining intestinal continuity eliminates the inconvenience of the stoma but may cause dietary restriction and perianal discomfort.
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