Background: For treatment of locally recurrent rectal cancer (LRRC), extended radical surgery is sometimes required to obtain a negative margin. Such surgery is often associated with severe postoperative pelvic abscess (PA) formation. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of reconstructive surgery using a large rectus abdominis myocutaneous (RAM) flap and anal preservation surgery on the incidence of severe PA. Method: Between February 1998 and June 2008, 44 patients underwent extended surgery for LRRC. Patients were divided into the pre-2004 group (n = 15) and the post-2004 group (n = 29). To reduce the risk of infections, we modified the surgical approach after 2004 to include a larger volume of RAM flap (modified RAM flap) and implemented anal preservation surgery. Results: The overall incidence of severe PA was significantly lower in the post-2004 group [6 of 29 (21%)] than the pre-2004 group [9 of 15 (60%), P = 0.017]. The incidence of severe PA was lower in the anal preservation group [1 of 12 (8.3%)] compared with those who did not undergo such surgery [14 of 32 (44%), P = 0.035]. Modified RAM flap reduced the incidence of severe PA, albeit insignificantly (pre-2004 group: 57%, post-2004 group: 23%). All three patients who underwent anal preservation and modified RAM flap reconstruction did not develop severe PA. Multiple logistic analysis identified no anal preservation (Odds ratio [OR] = 10.6) and performing of sacrectomy (OR = 20.0) as risk factors for severe PA. Conclusion: Anal preservation surgery is an effective measure against the development of severe PA after radical resection of LRRC.
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