Salvage surgery due to bowel obstruction in advanced or relapsed ovarian cancer resulting in short bowel syndrome and long-life total parenteral nutrition: surgical and clinical outcome

Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2013 Oct;23(8):1495-500. doi: 10.1097/IGC.0b013e31829f81ca.


Objective: Salvage surgery for patients with highly advanced or relapsed epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) complicated by bowel obstruction and resulting in short bowel syndrome (SBS) constitutes a therapeutic dilemma. Our aim was to evaluate surgical and clinical outcome in these highly palliative situations.

Methods: We evaluated all patients with EOC who underwent salvage extraperitoneal en bloc intestinal resection with terminal ileostomy or jejunostomy resulting in SBS and total parenteral nutrition owing to bowel obstruction between May 2003 and January 2012 in our institution.

Results: Thirty-seven patients were identified (median age, 58 years; range, 22-71 years), 3 (8.1%) with primary and 34 (91.6%) with relapsed EOC. Five patients (13.5%) were platinum sensitive. Median residual intestinal length was 70 cm (range, 10-180 cm); 21 patients (56.8%) had a residual intestinal length less than 1 m. Operative 30-day mortality and major morbidity rates were 10% and 51%, respectively. Median overall survival was 5.6 months (range, 0.1-49 months). One-year and 2-year overall survival rates were 18.3% (95% confidence interval, 5.1%-31.5%) and 8.1% (95% confidence interval, 0%-18.0)%, respectively. Within a median follow-up period of 5 months (range, 0.2-49 months), 4 patients (10.8%) are still alive. No significant differences in survival were seen between patients with or without major complications, tumor residuals, or residual intestinal length of less than 1 m versus greater than 1 m.

Conclusions: Salvage palliative surgery in EOC due to bowel obstruction resulting in SBS and in need of long-life total parenteral nutrition is associated with high morbidity rates and low overall survival. These surgeries should ideally be performed only in a multidisciplinary setting with adequate infrastructure and possibility of home care support. Conservative management should be the route of action in the absence of acute abdomen or intestinal perforation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma / complications
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / surgery*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Obstruction / etiology
  • Intestinal Obstruction / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / complications
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / mortality
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Palliative Care
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salvage Therapy / adverse effects
  • Salvage Therapy / mortality*
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / etiology
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / mortality*
  • Young Adult