Skip to main content
Surgeon in scrubs reaching for a tool

Patients around the world needing colonic surgery may be less likely to experience major complications after surgeons received online education run by the University of Birmingham’s Global Surgery Unit.

The reduction in anastomotic leaks taking place following types of colon surgery including right colectomy is analysed in a new publication in the British Journal of Surgery. The research team for the EAGLE trial, coordinated by the University of Birmingham, found that surgical teams that completed an online education module and followed more harmonised surgical techniques saw a substantial (50%) reduction in leaks.

We are delighted to see that among those teams who took part in the trial and completed the module, there was a sizeable reduction in the number of leaks following surgery.

Professor Dion Morton OBE

Professor Dion Morton OBE, Barling Professor of Surgery at the University of Birmingham and senior author of the paper said:

“Complications from colonic surgery leading to anastomotic leaks are not infrequent and can be life threatening, affecting around one in 12 patients undergoing bowel resection. We set out to provide expert training in the form of an online education module that surgical teams undertook as part of the EAGLE study. We are delighted to see that among those teams who took part in the trial and completed the module, there was a sizeable reduction in the number of leaks following surgery.

“Now that we have demonstrated that EAGLE resources can help to reduce this serious complication, we are providing the educational package across the world for free so that as many patients as possible can benefit.”

Anastomotic leaks

Anastomotic leaks are where two sections of the channel in the gut that have been operated on aren’t joined together properly. This leads to the contents of the patients’ gut leaking into the surrounding tissue including gut bacteria. It is associated with a five-fold increase in mortality following surgery.

Dr Elizabeth Li, Academic Clinical Lecturer in Surgery at the University of Birmingham and corresponding author of the study said:

“Our findings reflect the importance of team building in surgical departments and the strong connection of this into improved patient outcomes. The EAGLE study was a global collaborative effort and represents the beginning of a new method of delivering education and behavioural change in surgery.”