Contemporary management of rectal injuries at Level i trauma centers: The results of an American Association for the Surgery of Trauma multi-institutional study

Carlos V.R. Brown, Pedro G. Teixeira, Elisa Furay, John P. Sharpe, Tashinga Musonza, John Holcomb, Eric Bui, Brandon Bruns, H. Andrew Hopper, Michael S. Truitt, Clay C. Burlew, Morgan Schellenberg, Jack Sava, John Vanhorn, P. C.Brian Eastridge, Alicia M. Cross, Richard Vasak, Gary Vercruysse, Eleanor E. Curtis, James HaanRaul Coimbra, Phillip Bohan, Stephen Gale, Peter G. Bendix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION Rectal injuries have been historically treated with a combination of modalities including direct repair, resection, proximal diversion, presacral drainage, and distal rectal washout. We hypothesized that intraperitoneal rectal injuries may be selectively managed without diversion and the addition of distal rectal washout and presacral drainage in the management of extraperitoneal injuries are not beneficial. METHODS This is an American Association for the Surgery of Trauma multi-institutional retrospective study from 2004 to 2015 of all patients who sustained a traumatic rectal injury and were admitted to one of the 22 participating centers. Demographics, mechanism, location and grade of injury, and management of rectal injury were collected. The primary outcome was abdominal complications (abdominal abscess, pelvic abscess, and fascial dehiscence). RESULTS After exclusions, there were 785 patients in the cohort. Rectal injuries were intraperitoneal in 32%, extraperitoneal in 58%, both in 9%, and not documented in 1%. Rectal injury severity included the following grades I, 28%; II, 41%; III, 13%; IV, 12%; and V, 5%. Patients with intraperitoneal injury managed with a proximal diversion developed more abdominal complications (22% vs 10%, p = 0.003). Among patients with extraperitoneal injuries, there were more abdominal complications in patients who received proximal diversion (p = 0.0002), presacral drain (p = 0.004), or distal rectal washout (p = 0.002). After multivariate analysis, distal rectal washout [3.4 (1.4-8.5), p = 0.008] and presacral drain [2.6 (1.1-6.1), p = 0.02] were independent risk factors to develop abdominal complications. CONCLUSION Most patients with intraperitoneal injuries undergo direct repair or resection as well as diversion, although diversion is not associated with improved outcomes. While 20% of patients with extraperitoneal injuries still receive a presacral drain and/or distal rectal washout, these additional maneuvers are independently associated with a three-fold increase in abdominal complications and should not be included in the treatment of extraperitoneal rectal injuries. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic study, level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-233
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Rectal trauma
  • colostomy
  • presacral drain
  • rectal washout

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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