Systematic evaluation of surgical strategies for acute malignant left-sided colonic obstruction

Br J Surg. 2007 Dec;94(12):1451-60. doi: 10.1002/bjs.6007.


Background: Surgical strategy for acute colorectal obstruction due to colorectal cancer remains controversial. One-, two- and three-stage surgical procedures, and preoperative stenting of the stenosis as a bridge to surgery, are available.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted, searching MEDLINE, EMBASE and CENTRAL, as well as bibliographies of included studies, to identify randomized and non-randomized controlled trials that compared two or more surgical procedures in acute colonic obstruction.

Results: After screening 1748 titles and abstracts, 209 were selected for full text assessment; 29 studies with 2286 patients were finally included. In general, the quality of the studies was limited, with only three randomized trials. Eight non-randomized studies comparing one-stage with two- or three-stage surgery consistently favoured a one-stage procedure in terms of mortality (relative risk difference from - 2 to - 27 per cent), but reported morbidity rates were not different. Trials of different one-stage procedures (segmental and total/subtotal colectomy) showed none to be clearly superior. Stenting procedures were superior to non-stenting treatments.

Conclusion: One-stage surgery appears to be superior to two- or three-stage procedures. Stenting is a promising option, allowing the resection to be carried out in an elective setting.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Colectomy / methods*
  • Colectomy / mortality
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colonic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods
  • Decompression, Surgical / mortality
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Obstruction / mortality
  • Intestinal Obstruction / surgery*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Stents