Bowel resection for deep endometriosis: a systematic review

BJOG. 2011 Feb;118(3):285-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2010.02744.x. Epub 2010 Oct 13.


Background: deep endometriosis involving the bowel often is treated by segmental bowel resection. In a recent review of over 10000 segmental bowel resections for indications other than endometriosis, low rectum resections, in particular, were associated with a high long-term complication rate for bladder, bowel and sexual function.

Objectives: to review systematically segmental bowel resections for endometriosis for indications, outcome and complications according to the level of resection and the volume of the nodule.

Search strategy: all published articles on segmental bowel resection for endometriosis identified through MEDLINE, EMBASE and ISI Web of Knowledge databases during 1997-2009.

Selection criteria: the terms 'bowel', 'rectal', 'colorectal', 'rectovaginal', 'rectosigmoid', 'resection' and 'endometriosis' were used. Articles describing more than five bowel resections for endometriosis, and with details of at least three of the relevant endpoints.

Data collection and analysis: data did not permit a meaningful meta-analysis.

Main results: thirty-four articles were found describing 1889 bowel resections. The level of bowel resection and the size of the lesions were poorly reported. The indications to perform a bowel resection were variable and were rarely described accurately. The duration of surgery varied widely and endometriosis was not always confirmed by pathology. Although not recorded prospectively, pain relief was systematically reported as excellent for the first year after surgery. Recurrence of pain was reported in 45 of 189 women; recurrence requiring reintervention occurred in 61 of 314 women. Recurrence of endometriosis was reported in 37 of 267 women. The complication rate was comparable with that of bowel resection for indications other than endometriosis. Data on sexual function were not found.

Conclusions: after a systematic review, it was found that the indication to perform a segmental resection was poorly documented and the data did not permit an analysis of indication and outcome according to localisation or diameter of the endometriotic nodule. Segmental resections were rectum resections in over 90%, and the postoperative complication rate was comparable with that of resections for indications other than endometriosis. No data were found evaluating sexual dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Colectomy / methods*
  • Endometriosis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Length of Stay
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Rectal Diseases / surgery*
  • Recurrence
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / etiology
  • Sigmoid Diseases / surgery*