JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Reoperation for palliation of recurrent malignant bowel obstruction in ovarian carcinoma.

OBJECTIVE: While initial surgical treatment for palliation of malignant bowel obstruction is well described, data on reoperation for palliation of recurrent obstruction in ovarian carcinoma are limited. The purpose of this study was to analyze the outcome of patients undergoing reoperation for repeat bowel obstruction.

METHODS: We reviewed the records of all patients with ovarian cancer who underwent repeat surgery for recurrent, malignant bowel obstruction at our institution between 1994 and 2002.

RESULTS: Ten patients were identified. All patients had bowel obstruction caused by recurrent ovarian carcinoma and had a previous corrective surgical procedure for malignant bowel obstruction. The mean age at diagnosis of repeat obstruction was 54.1 years (range, 34-74 years). All patients had initial stage III or IV disease with moderately to poorly differentiated cancers. No patient received prior radiation therapy. The sites of obstruction in patients were as follows: small bowel, 3; large bowel, 3; both small and large bowel, 4. The mean number of prior laparotomies was 2.7 (range, 2-5). The mean interval from previous surgery for bowel obstruction to recurrent bowel obstruction was 8.3 months (range, 1-22 months). Surgical correction was possible in 5 (50%) of 10 patients, with 3 (60%) of these 5 patients obtaining successful palliation. Successful palliation is defined as the ability to tolerate a regular or low-residue diet at least 60 days postoperatively. Complications included enterocutaneous fistulas in three patients (two had enterotomies at time of surgery) and wound infection in one patient. There were no postoperative mortalities. The mean postoperative stay was 15.8 days (range, 8-29 days). Two of the three patients successfully palliated presented with a subsequent obstruction at 3 and 5 months postoperatively and were treated with gastrostomy tubes. The median length of survival for the entire cohort from the date of surgery for repeat obstruction was 4.5 months (range, 3-17 months).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients undergoing repeat surgery for recurrent bowel obstruction have a low likelihood of successful palliation (30%). The surgery is associated with significant complications after surgery, rapid development of subsequent bowel obstructions, and limited survival rates. Alternative management approaches such as percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube placement should be considered in this group of patients.

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