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Perineal colostomy: advantages and disadvantages

Francesk Mulita
Konstantinos Tepetes
Georgios-Ioannis Verras
Elias Liolis
Levan Tchabashvili
Charalampos Kaplanis
Ioannis Perdikaris
Dimitrios Velissaris
Ioannis Maroulis

Department of Surgery, General University Hospital of Patras, Patras, Greece
Department of Surgery, University Hospital of Larissa, Larissa, Greece
Department of Internal Medicine, General University Hospital of Patras, Greece
Gastroenterology Rev
Data publikacji online: 2021/10/04
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In the past few years, developments in the field of rectal cancer surgery have mostly been aimed towards preservation of sphincter function, with the pinnacle of modern technical approaches being low anterior resection with total mesorectal excision and primary colo-anal anastomosis, for tumours as close as 2 cm to the anal sphincter [1]. Despite every effort being made to preserve sphincter function, in order for the patient to achieve satisfactory quality of life, in many instances tumour localization makes abdominoperineal resection of the colon inevitable – a procedure first popularized by Ernest Miles in 1908 [2]. As opposed to forming an end colostomy placed in the left iliac fossa (or right ileostomy, of total resection), many surgeons have come up with different techniques in order to place the resulting colostomy in the perineal area. The perineal colostomy, following total abdominoperineal excision, is a type of colostomy, achieved by multiple, evolving approaches, which aims to utilize the natural anal orifice as the ostomy’s point of exit, while simultaneously employing several reconstructive and grafting techniques, in order to restore sphincteric function, despite radical bowel excision [3–5].

Technical considerations

The first described perineal colostomy technique was published by Schmidt in 1982 [6]. In his version, a small segment of about 8–10 cm of bowel is resected and prepared for use as a pseudo-sphincter [5]. This fragment is stripped of its mesocolon and epiploic fat and placed in an antibiotic solution. The graft is turned “inside-out” like a sleeve, so the serosa is on the inside and the mucosal layer is on the outside. Then, the segment is carefully stripped of the mucosal layer, until the muscular layer is encountered. A small mesocolon window is opened, approximately 2 cm from the distal end of the bowel, and the graft is threaded through the window and wrapped around the colon, typically for 1.5 turns, and sutured secure in place. Finally, the colon is lowered to the perineum, taking care to ensure that the length is adequate for a tension-free colostomy. Once in place, the colostomy is matured through the anal aperture [5, 7]. Another utilized technique is that of constructing valve-like stenoses in the colonic segment, by making circumferential incisions through the seromuscular layer, which are then approximated by invaginating sutures, in order for the protruding mucosa, to create a valve-like structure within the lumen [8, 9]. Then, the bowel is placed as described above, tension-free, within the perineum. The distance between the incisions is usually 10 cm, but some authors also suggest more continent results when the incisions are at 5 cm [8, 10]. A much discussed issue is whether the omentum must be used to compensate for the tissue loss after total mesorectal excision – a process called omentoplasty [8, 11]. Omentoplasty is usually necessary when adequate closure of the pelvic peritoneum cannot be achieved [10]. Wang et al. described a novel technique that is useful in laparoscopic abdominoperitoneal excisions. According to their publication, after excision, a small incision is made in the abdominal wall, through which the colon can be pulled. In addition to creating the circumferential incisions as mentioned above, they also described folding the colon at a 90o angle, so that it resembles the sigmoid colon [12]. Then, it is reintroduced in the abdominal cavity, and colostomy construction is finished laparoscopically with perineal assistance. A modified technique for pseudocontinent colostomy is also found in the literature. In this variation, apart from Schmidt’s graft, an additional vertical rectus abdominis mucocutaneus (VRAM) flap is utilized [13]. Once the above-described process is complete, mobilization of a skin pad, along with part of the rectus abdominis muscle, up to the pubic symphysis is started. Once mobilized, the flap, along with the skin pad, is passed below the pelvis and rotated in such a way that the skin pad will cover the perineal opening and the connected VRAM will pass around the neo-rectum, acting as the external sphincter [13]. According to Nassar, this modified technique achieves satisfactory continence rates of up to 93%, while minimizing perineal incision complications [13]. Utilization of gracilis muscle flaps or in some cases, gluteus maximus flaps, as a reconstructed anal sphincter, is a technique that has also gained ground the past few years [14–16]. In this technique, following standard abdominoperineal resection, the gracilis muscle is harvested from the interior thigh. Utilizing 2 or 3 small incisions, the muscle and its distal tendon can be easily identified and dissected, with a combination of sharp and blunt dissection. Care must be taken to localize the neurovascular pedicle early on the muscle’s posterolateral side and preserve it. Once the colon transposition on its final ostomy site is complete, the muscle is pulled through the first incision, assessing for viability of the neurovascular pedicle, and it is threaded towards the ostomy site through a subcutaneous tunnel. There, it is wrapped around the colon to simulate an anal sphincter [14]. Alterations of this technique include using both gracilis muscles, to form a reconstructed pelvic floor, and implanting neurostimulators, that can further assist in effective muscle contraction [7, 14, 15].

Perineal colostomy advantages

The absolute priority, when discussing any reconstructive technique, is to always ensure that it does not compromise the oncological results of the original surgery. Several studies have shown that perineal colostomy not only does not compromise, but also facilitates more radical excisions, to ensure R0 results, by providing a reconstruction alternative [3, 13, 17]. Patient satisfaction rates are significantly better when compared to ostomy procedures, and they also tend to score higher on everyday functionality scores and quality of sexual life scores [5, 7, 10, 11, 18]. Some authors have reported overall satisfaction scores of up to 85% in patient series [7]. When compared to abdominal colostomy, perineal colostomy was able to demonstrate a better postoperative course for the patients involved, significantly less healing time, and a decreased frequency in ostomy-related complications [10]. One of the most discussed aspects of perineal colostomy formation is whether the reconstructive technique and the neo-sphincter manage to substitute the natural pelvic sphincteric mechanism. In many case series, satisfactory continence (usually reported as Kirwan class up to C) can be seen in up to 93% of the patients, with or without the use of anti-diarrhoeal medicine [7, 12, 13, 19, 20]. Known reports indicate that regardless of the technique employed, perineal colostomy with reconstruction seems to achieve satisfactory continence results, as well as anticipatory bowel habits, through scheduled irrigation [4, 5, 21]. In many studies, sphincter functionality was also confirmed via rectal manometry and defecographic studies, which demonstrated achievable increase in tone after voluntary contraction [7, 9, 19, 22]. Additionally, constructing a continent perineal colostomy through a natural orifice also allows for easier distal “neo-rectal” examination, colonoscopy, or endoscopic US, for the detection and screening of local recurrence [5, 7, 13, 21].

Perineal colostomy disadvantages

Being such an invasive procedure, formation of pseudo-continent perineal colostomy is expected also to have certain drawbacks. When compared to traditional abdominal colostomy, some patients felt it was harder to manage, due to the need for frequent irrigation, and while physical and sexual functionality was better, the social functionality of the patients seemed to be worse [18]. Among the reported complications, was mucosal prolapse from the colostomy, suppurative complications of the perineum, wound dehiscence, herniation, absence of perineal sensation, and in approximately 25% of the male patients, erectile dysfunction [3, 5, 7, 9, 11–14, 18, 21, 23–25]. Among these, suppurative complications are the most frequently reported in higher percentages when compared to abdominal end colostomy [5, 7, 9, 12, 13, 22]. Table I summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of perineal colostomy based on 20 selected PubMed-indexed articles.


This review shows that perineal colostomy is a safe and reliable technique performed after abdominoperineal resection, providing a higher degree of satisfaction and greater quality of life for patients. Although this method could be a good option in selected patients, physicians should always be aware of the disadvantages of perineal colostomy.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright: © 2021 Termedia Sp. z o. o. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
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