Aim: To determine the level of consensus on the definition of colorectal anastomotic leakage (CAL) among Dutch and Chinese colorectal surgeons.
Methods: Dutch and Chinese colorectal surgeons were asked to partake in an online questionnaire. Consensus in the online questionnaire was defined as > 80% agreement between respondents on various statements regarding a general definition of CAL, and regarding clinical and radiological diagnosis of the complication.
Results: Fifty-nine Dutch and 202 Chinese dedicated colorectal surgeons participated in the online survey. Consensus was found on only one of the proposed elements of a general definition of CAL in both countries: ‘extravasation of contrast medium after rectal enema on a CT scan’. Another two were found relevant according to Dutch surgeons: ‘necrosis of the anastomosis found during reoperation’, and ‘a radiological collection treated with percutaneous drainage’. No consensus was found for all other proposed elements that may be included in a general definition.
Conclusion: There is no universally accepted definition of CAL in the Netherlands and China. Diagnosis of CAL based on clinical manifestations remains a point of discussion in both countries. Dutch surgeons are more likely to report ‘subclinical’ leaks as CAL, which partly explains the higher reported Dutch CAL rates.