context: recent studies have shown that local anesthesia for loop colostomy closure is as safe as spinal anesthesia for this procedure. objectives: randomized clinical trial to compare the results from these two techniques. methods: fifty patients were randomized for loop colostomy closure using spinal anesthesia (n = 25) and using local anesthesia (n = 25). preoperatively, the bowel was evaluated by means of colonoscopy, and bowel preparation was performed with 10% oral mannitol solution and physiological saline solution for lavage through the distal colostomy orifice. all patients were given prophylactic antibiotics (cefoxitin). pain, analgesia, reestablishment of peristaltism or peristalsis, diet reintroduction, length of hospitalization and rehospitalization were analyzed postoperatively. results: surgery duration and local complications were greater in the spinal anesthesia group. conversion to general anesthesia occurred only with spinal anesthesia. there was no difference in intraoperative pain between the groups, but postoperative pain, reestablishment of peristaltism or peristalsis, diet reintroduction and length of hospitalization were lower with local anesthesia. conclusions: local anesthesia plus sedation offers a safer and more effective method than spinal anesthesia for loop colostomy closure.