Results of surgery for obstructing carcinomatosis of gastrointestinal, pancreatic, or biliary origin

A D Turnbull, J Guerra, H F Starnes
Journal of Clinical Oncology 1989, 7 (3): 381-6
Results of operation for obstructing carcinomatosis of gastrointestinal (GI), pancreatic, or biliary origin were reviewed to assess relief of symptoms, management of re-obstruction, and duration of hospitalization. A retrospective review (1977 to 1986) identified 89 patients, 59 (66%) of whom had tumors originating in the colon, and 19 (21%) in the stomach. Normal bowel function was restored for a median of 102 days in 66 patients (74%) and all but four (94%) were discharged. Forty-one (46%) patients remained unobstructed until death. Twenty-three (26%) were not relieved by operation and died a median of 33 days later (P less than .005). Forty-eight (81.4%) of the 59 colon cancer patients and ten (52.6%) of 19 with gastric cancer (P less than .05) were benefited by the operation, although comparison of duration of function was less striking (P less than .1). In-hospital mortality was 13% and complications occurred in 44%. Obstruction recurred in 38% of those relieved by the initial operation. Normal bowel function was restored in six (46%) of 13 patients undergoing a second laparotomy (median, 158 days) and in six of 13 (46%) treated with nasogastric suction. Obstruction recurred again in four of the latter six patients (median, 39 days). Hospitalization averaged 31 days (median, 25 days) for the first procedure and 41 days (median, 39 days) for patients operated for recurrent obstruction. These results justify laparotomy for intestinal obstruction in known or suspected carcinomatosis, particularly of colonic origin, if performance status is compatible with a reasonable quality of life.

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