Anterior resection syndrome

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 5 Oct 2023

Anterior resection syndrome refers to a wide spectrum of symptoms which develop following sphincter-preserving anterior resection for rectal cancer.

There have been reports that up to 47% of patients who undergo anterior resection for rectal cancer develop anterior resection syndrome 2.

Risk factors for developing anterior resection syndrome include 4,5:

Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • increased bowel frequency

  • constipation

  • fecal incontinence

  • incomplete evacuation

  • increased intestinal gas

MRI of the pelvis, including dynamic sequences, is recommended to exclude other causes for altered bowel function. 

In rare cases the symptoms are so severe that colostomy formation is performed.

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