Aggressive pharmacological treatment for reversing malignant bowel obstruction

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2004 Oct;28(4):412-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2004.01.007.


Early and intensive pharmacological treatment not only may reduce gastrointestinal symptoms but also reverse malignant bowel obstruction. Fifteen consecutive advanced cancer patients with inoperable bowel obstruction received a combination of drugs including metoclopramide, octreotide, dexamethasone and an initial bolus of amidotrizoato. Recovery of intestinal transit was reported within 1-5 days in fourteen patients, who continued this treatment without presenting symptoms of bowel obstruction until death. This case series establishes that the combination of propulsive and antisecretive agents can act synergistically to allow a fast recovery of bowel transit without inducing unpleasant colic. It suggests that the most important mechanism in these circumstances is functional and can be reversible, if an aggressive treatment is initiated early before fecal impaction and edema render bowel obstruction irreversible.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Neoplasms / complications
  • Abdominal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiemetics / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Obstruction / drug therapy*
  • Intestinal Obstruction / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Pelvic Neoplasms / complications
  • Pelvic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Recovery of Function / drug effects
  • Terminal Care / methods
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiemetics
  • Drug Combinations
  • Gastrointestinal Agents