Intestinal Anastomosis

Updated: Mar 11, 2016
  • Author: Vikram Kate, MBBS, MS, PhD, FACS, FACG, FRCS, FRCS(Edin), FRCS(Glasg), FIMSA, MAMS, MASCRS; Chief Editor: Kurt E Roberts, MD  more...
  • Print
Overview

Practice Essentials

Intestinal anastomosis is a surgical procedure to establish communication between two formerly distant portions of the intestine. This procedure restores intestinal continuity after removal of a pathologic condition affecting the bowel.

Indications and contraindications

Indications

Indications for intestinal anastomosis can be broadly divided into two categories: restoration of bowel continuity following resection of diseased bowel and bypass of unresectable diseased bowel. Certain pediatric conditions may also require intestinal anastomosis.

Resection of diseased bowel is performed in the following settings:

  • Bowel gangrene due to vascular compromise caused by mesenteric vascular disease, prolonged intestinal obstruction, intussusceptions, or volvulus
  • Malignancy
  • Benign conditions (eg, intestinal polyps, intussusception, roundworm infestation with intestinal obstruction )
  • Infections (eg, tuberculosis complicated with stricture or perforation)
  • Traumatic perforations
  • Large perforations (traumatic) not amenable to primary closure
  • Radiation enteritis complicated with bleeding, stricture, or perforation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn disease that is refractory to medical therapy or associated with complications (eg, bleeding, perforation, toxic megacolon, dysplasia/carcinoma)
  • Chronic constipation, idiopathic slow transit constipation, or Hirschsprung disease: Subtotal colectomy may be performed when the disease is refractory to medical therapy

Bypass of unresectable diseased bowel is performed in following settings:

  • Locally advanced tumor causing luminal obstruction
  • Metastatic disease causing intestinal obstruction
  • Poor general condition or condition that prevents major resection

Pediatric conditions for which intestinal anastomosis may be required include the following:

  • Congenital anomalies (eg, Meckel diverticulum, intestinal atresia, malrotation with volvulus leading to gangrene, meconium ileus, duplication cysts, Hirschsprung disease)
  • Inflammatory conditions (eg, necrotizing enteritis, enterocolitis, tuberculosis, enteric perforation)
  • Other conditions (eg, intussusception, angiodysplasia, polypoid disease, ascariasis)
  • As a part of other surgical procedures (eg, Kasai portoenterostomy, choledochal cyst, urinary diversions, pancreatic neoplasms)

Contraindications

Contraindications to intestinal anastomosis include conditions in which there is high risk of anastomotic leak, such as the following:

  • Severe sepsis
  • Poor nutritional status (eg, severe hypoalbuminemia)
  • Disseminated malignancy (multiple peritoneal and serosal deposits, ascites)
  • Viability of bowel in doubt
  • Fecal contamination or frank peritonitis
  • Unhealthy bowel condition - Precludes primary anastomosis

Perioperative management

Perioperative management includes the following:

  • Preoperative fluid resuscitation
  • Preoperative antibiotic prophylaxis
  • Placement of nasogastric tube and indwelling urinary catheter
  • Venous thromboembolism prophylaxis

Operative techniques

Adequate exposure and access, gentle handling of the bowel, adequate hemostasis, approximation of well-vascularized bowel, absence of tension at anastomosis, good surgical technique, and avoidance of fecal contamination are tenets of good intestinal anastomosis.

The image below depicts a completed small-bowel anastomosis.

Completed small bowel anastomosis. Completed small bowel anastomosis.

Surgical techniques used in intestinal anastomosis include the following:

  • Incision and exposure
  • Bowel resection
  • Hand-sewn anastomosis (eg, bowel anastomosis, gastrojejunostomy, colorectal anastomosis, esophagogastric anastomosis)
  • Stapled anastomosis (eg, gastrojejunostomy, small bowel anastomosis, colorectal anastomosis, cervical esophagogastric anastomosis)

Postoperative complications

Important complications following intestinal anastomosis include the following:

  • Anastomotic leak
  • Bleeding
  • Wound infection
  • Anastomotic stricture
  • Prolonged functional ileus, especially in children
Next:

Background

Intestinal anastomosis is a surgical procedure to establish communication between two formerly distant portions of the intestine. This procedure restores intestinal continuity after removal of a pathologic condition affecting the bowel. Intestinal anastomosis is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures, especially in the emergency setting, and is also commonly performed in the elective setting when resections are carried out for benign or malignant lesions of the gastrointestinal tract.

A disastrous complication of intestinal anastomosis is anastomotic leak resulting in peritonitis, which is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Proper surgical technique and adherence to fundamental principles is imperative to ensure successful outcome after intestinal anastomosis.

Intestinal anastomosis can be performed by means of a hand-sewn technique that uses absorbable or nonabsorbable sutures or by means of stapling. The former is the more commonly used option because of the availability and affordability of suture materials and the wide familiarity with the procedure. The increased availability of stapling devices for intestinal anastomosis has provided an alternative option to perform a rapid anastomosis. Higher cost, limited availability, and less familiarity are the main drawbacks of these devices. Less common techniques for intestinal anastomosis use compression devices (biofragmentable anastomotic rings), glue (tissue or synthetic), and laser welding. [1, 2, 3, 4]

Intestinal anastomosis in neonatal and pediatric patients may be required for the management of many conditions. Some conditions may necessitate resection of pathology followed by primary anastomosis, whereas other conditions may necessitate delayed anastomosis. Intestinal anastomosis may also be necessary in the management of some nonintestinal anomalies.

Previous
Next:

Indications

Indications for intestinal anastomosis can be broadly divided into two categories: restoration of bowel continuity after resection of diseased bowel and bypass of unresectable diseased bowel.

Restoration of bowel continuity after resection of diseased bowel

Resection of diseased bowel is performed in the following settings:

  • Bowel gangrene secondary to vascular compromise resulting from mesenteric vascular disease, prolonged intestinal obstruction, intussusceptions, or volvulus
  • Malignancy
  • Benign conditions, such as intestinal polyps, intussusception, or roundworm infestation with intestinal obstruction
  • Infections, such as tuberculosis complicated with stricture or perforation
  • Traumatic perforations
  • Large perforation (traumatic) not amenable to primary closure
  • Radiation enteritis complicated with bleeding, stricture, or perforation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD),  ulcerative colitis, or Crohn disease when disease is refractory to medical therapy or associated with complications such as bleeding, perforation, toxic megacolon, or dysplasia/carcinoma
  • Chronic constipation, idiopathic slow-transit constipation, or Hirschsprung disease, for which subtotal colectomy may be performed when the disease is refractory to medical therapy

Bypass of unresectable diseased bowel

Bypass of unresectable diseased bowel is performed in the following settings:

  • Locally advanced tumor causing luminal obstruction
  • Metastatic disease causing intestinal obstruction
  • Poor general condition or condition that prevents major resection

Pediatric conditions

Pediatric conditions for which intestinal anastomosis may be required include the following:

  • Congenital anomalies, such as Meckel diverticulum, intestinal atresia, malrotation with volvulus leading to gangrene, meconium ileus, duplication cysts, and Hirschsprung disease
  • Inflammatory conditions, such as necrotizing enteritis, enterocolitis, tuberculosis, and enteric perforation
  • Other conditions, such as intussusception, angiodysplasia, polypoid disease, and ascariasis
  • As a part of other surgical procedures, such as Kasai portoenterostomy, choledochal cyst, urinary diversions, pancreatic neoplasms
Previous
Next:

Contraindications

Intestinal anastomosis is contraindicated in conditions where there is a high risk of anastomotic leak, such as the following:

  • Severe sepsis
  • Poor nutritional status (eg, severe hypoalbuminemia)
  • Disseminated malignancy (multiple peritoneal and serosal deposits, ascites)
  • Viability of bowel in doubt
  • Fecal contamination or frank peritonitis
  • Unhealthy bowel condition (precludes primary anastomosis)
Previous
Next:

Technical Considerations

Best practices

Adequate exposure and access, gentle handling of the bowel, adequate hemostasis, approximation of well-vascularized bowel, absence of tension at anastomosis, good surgical technique, and avoidance of fecal contamination are tenets of good intestinal anastomosis.

Procedural planning

Although an inverting anastomosis has been found to be better than an everting anastomosis, there is no difference in complication rates between single-layer and double-layer techniques or between continuous and interrupted anastomosis.

Stapled anastomotic technique has virtually replaced hand-sewn technique for low colorectal anastomosis, and its use in other areas has also increased. Although stapled anastomosis has not yet been proved superior to hand-sewn anastomosis, it has definitely reduced the operating time and facilitated the ease of doing the procedure, especially in low colorectal anastomosis.

Although restoration of bowel continuity is generally preferred, a decision has to be made judiciously in emergency settings. A staged procedure may be preferred for restoration of bowel continuity if the general condition of the patient is not good enough to avoid the complications associated with anastomotic leak.

Complication prevention

An important component of preventing complications related to intestinal anastomosis is to complete preoperative optimization of patients' medical status, including correction of malnutrition with nutritional support and treatment of associated systemic illness. However, this is generally possible only in elective resections, not in emergency situations.

The following can also help prevent complications:

  • Adequate exposure and access
  • Gentle handling of the bowel
  • Adequate hemostasis
  • Approximation of well-vascularized bowel
  • Absence of tension at anastomosis
  • Good surgical technique
  • Avoidance of fecal contamination

It is very important to prevent hypothermia and hypovolemia during surgery, especially in children. Thermal mattresses should be used for thermoregulation, especially for neonates. Fluid loss should be minimized and losses should be adequately replaced. Adequate blood should be arranged.

Previous