Patient and surgeon preferences for early ileostomy closure following restorative proctectomy for rectal cancer: why aren’t we doing it?

Natasha G. Caminsky, Jeongyoon Moon, Nancy Morin, Karim Alavi, Rebecca C. Auer, Liliana G. Bordeianou, Sami A. Chadi, Sébastien Drolet, Amandeep Ghuman, Alexander Sender Liberman, Tony MacLean, Ian M. Paquette, Jason Park, Sunil Patel, Scott R. Steele, Patricia Sylla, Steven D. Wexner, Carol Ann Vasilevsky, Fateme Rajabiyazdi, Marylise Boutros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Early ileostomy closure (EIC), ≤ 2 weeks from creation, is a relatively new practice. Multiple studies have demonstrated that this approach is safe, feasible, and cost-effective. Despite the demonstrated benefits, this is neither routine practice, nor has it been studied, in North America. This study aimed to assess patient and surgeon perspectives about EIC. Methods: A mixed-methods, cross-sectional study of patients and surgeons was performed. Rectal cancer survivors from a single institution who underwent restorative proctectomy with diverting loop ileostomy and subsequent closure within the last 5 years were contacted. North American surgeons with high rectal cancer volumes (> 20 cases/year) were included. Surveys (patients) and semi-structured interviews (surgeons) were conducted. Analysis employed descriptive statistics and thematic analysis, respectively. Results: Forty-eight patients were surveyed (mean age 65.1 ± 11.8 years; 54.2% male). Stoma closure occurred after a median of 7.7 months (IQR 4.8–10.9) and 50.0% (24) found it “difficult” or “very difficult” to live with their stoma. Patients considered improvement in quality of life and quicker return to normal function the most important advantages of EIC, whereas the idea of two operations in two weeks being too taxing on the body was deemed the biggest disadvantage. Most patients (35, 72.9%) would have opted for EIC. Surgeon interviews (15) revealed 4 overarching themes: (1) there are many benefits to EIC; (2) specific patient characteristics would make EIC an appropriate option; (3) many barriers to implementing EIC exist; and (4) many logistical hurdles need to be addressed for successful implementation. Most surgeons (12, 80.0%) would “definitely want to participate” in a North American randomized-controlled trial (RCT) on EIC for rectal cancer patients. Conclusions: Implementing EIC poses many logistical challenges. Both patients and surgeons are interested in further exploring EIC and believe it warrants a North American RCT to motivate a change in practice. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-682
Number of pages14
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Colorectal surgery
  • Early stoma closure
  • Quality of life
  • Survey study
  • Thematic analysis


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