Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy: Rationale and technique

World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2010 Feb 15;2(2):68-75. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v2.i2.68.


The combination of complete cytoreductive surgery and perioperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy provides the only chance for long-term survival for selected patients diagnosed with a variety of peritoneal neoplasms, either primary or secondary to digestive or gynecologic malignancy. Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) delivered in the operating room once the cytoreductive surgical procedure is finalized, constitutes the most common form of administration of perioperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy. This may be complemented in some instances with early postoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy (EPIC). HIPEC combines the pharmacokinetic advantage inherent to the intracavitary delivery of certain cytotoxic drugs, which results in regional dose intensification, with the direct cytotoxic effect of hyperthermia. Hyperthermia exhibits a selective cell-killing effect in malignant cells by itself, potentiates the cytotoxic effect of certain chemotherapy agents and enhances the tissue penetration of the administered drug. The chemotherapeutic agents employed in HIPEC need to have a cell cycle nonspecific mechanism of action and should ideally show a heat-synergistic cytotoxic effect. Delivery of HIPEC requires an apparatus that heats and circulates the chemotherapeutic solution so that a stable temperature is maintained in the peritoneal cavity during the procedure. An open abdomen (Coliseum) or closed abdomen technique may be used, with no significant differences in efficacy proven to date. Specific technical training and a solid knowledge of regional chemotherapy management are required. Concerns about safety of the procedure for operating room personnel are expected but are manageable if universal precautions and standard chemotherapy handling procedures are used. Different HIPEC drug regimens and dosages are currently in use. A tendency for concurrent intravenous chemotherapy administration (bidirectional chemotherapy, so-called "HIPEC plus") has been observed in recent years, with the aim to further enhance the cytotoxic potential of HIPEC. Future trials to ascertain the ideal HIPEC regimen in different diseases and to evaluate the efficacy of new drugs or drug combinations in this context are warranted.

Keywords: Cytoreductive surgery; Hyperthermia; Intracavitary chemotherapy; Peritoneal carcinomatosis; Peritoneal neoplasms.