Background: Signs of gastrointestinal obstruction, with intractable vomiting and an inability to take oral food, are common symptoms in terminally ill cancer patients with advanced primary tumors or peritoneal carcinomatosis. The application of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy or jejunostomy (PEG/PEJ) instead of the usual nasoenteral tube is a simple method of achieving permanent decompression in the upper gastrointestinal tract. The goals of this study, in addition to establishing indications and outcome, were to identify specific aspects of tube placement and to determine the incidence of complications.
Method: Over a period of 3 years, a total of 24 consecutive patients (mean age, 64 years; range, 37-83 years) underwent either a PEG (17/71%) or a PEJ (seven/29%).
Results: In all patients, PEG/PEJ obviated the need for the nasoenteral tube. A total of 22 patients (92%) were enabled to take liquids orally, and 20 (83%) were discharged to home care. With the exception of a single spontaneous dislodgement of the PEG tube, no major complications were observed.
Conclusion: We believe that PEG/PEJ represents an effective, minimally invasive, and cost-effective method for gastrointestinal decompression in patients with advanced incurable cancer.