Obesity and anastomotic leak rates in colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis

Type Article

Journal Article


T. S. Nugent; M. E. Kelly; N. E. Donlon; M. R. Fahy; J. O. Larkin; P. H. McCormick; B. J. Mehigan

Year of publication



Int J Colorectal Dis








PURPOSE: Anastomotic leak (AL) following colorectal cancer resection is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality with an impact on recurrence rates and survival. The impact of obesity on AL rates is debated. This meta-analysis aims to investigate the relationship between obesity and AL. METHODS: A search was conducted of the PubMed/MEDLINE, and Web of Science databases and included studies were split into Western and Asian groups based on population-specific body mass index (BMI) ranges for obesity. A meta-analysis was performed to assess the impact of obesity on AL rate following colorectal cancer resection. RESULTS: Two thousand three hundred and four articles were initially screened. Thirty-one studies totaling 32,953 patients were included. Patients with obesity had a statistically significant increase in AL rate in all Western and Asian study groups. However, this increase was only clinically significant in the rectal anastomotic subgroups-Western: 10.8% vs 8.4%, OR 1.57 (1.01-2.44) and Asian: 9.4% vs 7.4%, OR 1.58 (1.07-2.32). CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this analysis confirm that obesity is a significant risk factor for anastomotic leak, particularly in rectal anastomoses. This effect is thought to be primarily mediated via technical difficulties of surgery although metabolic and immunological factors may also play a role. Obesity in patients undergoing restorative CRC resection should be discussed and considered as part of the pre-operative counselling.