Radiographic findings of anastomotic leaks

Elizabeth T. Lynn, Julia Chen, Eric J. Wilck, Kerri El-Sabrout, Chris C. Lo, Celia M. Divino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Although computed tomography (CT) scans play an important role in the diagnosis and management of anastomotic leaks (AL), there is no consensus on what radiographic findings are associated with AL. The purpose of this study is to identify the most common CT scan findings associated with AL and whether the amount of extraluminal air or the density of extraluminal fluid can be correlated with the presence of an AL. A retrospective chart review of 210 patients with anastomotic leaks from 2003 to 2010 at Mount Sinai Medical Center was performed. Eightysix patients fit our criteria and were included. All CT scans were reread by an independent radiologist not involved with patient care. Our study included 59 per cent men and 41 per cent women with a mean age of 51 years. Diagnoses included inflammatory bowel disease (53%), malignancy (21%), and diverticulitis (12%). One hundred per cent of the patients had one of three findings: extraluminal air (92%), extraluminal fluid (88%), or extravasation of contrast (32%). Eighty-one per cent (70/86) had both fluid and air simultaneously. Extraluminal air was seen in 79 patients. The estimated amounts of extraluminal air were as follows: 0 to 25mL (49%), 26 to 500 mL (41%), 500 to 1000 mL (5%), and more than 1000 mL (5%). The Hounsfield unit (HU) measurements of the fluid ranged from 3 to 633 HUs. The most common CT findings associated with AL are pneumoperitoneum and extraluminal fluid, including extravasation of contrast, which can be seen in up to 100 per cent of patients. The amount of estimated extraluminal air and density of fluid collection have no prognostic value in predicting AL. Copyright Southeastern Surgical Congress. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-197
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


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