Anterior resection syndrome

Last revised by Svetlana Belousova on 2 Aug 2021

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

Pelvic radiotherapy is a known risk factor to develop anterior resection syndrome.


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

Clinical presentation

Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • increased bowel frequency
  • constipation
  • fecal incontinence
  • incomplete evacuation
  • increased intestinal gas

Radiographic features

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

Treatment and prognosis

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

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