Background and study aims: Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) is a simple method of achieving nonsurgical gastric decompression in patients suffering from metastatic abdominal tumors and upper gastrointestinal tract obstruction. The aim of this prospective study was both to evaluate the efficacy of PEG for intestinal decompression in patients with disseminated abdominal cancer and to compare two catheters with different diameters.
Patients and methods: Over a one-year period, 22 consecutive female patients (mean age 53.7, range 29-73) were referred to us and a PEG was successfully placed in 21. In four patients with unsatisfactory endoscopic trans-illumination of the anterior abdominal wall, an ultrasound unit was used to identify an adequate site for PEG placement.
Results: All patients experienced substantial symptomatic relief after a few days: vomiting and nausea completely resolved, and abdominal pain persisted in one patient only. No gastrostomy-related additional morbidity was noticed. We randomly inserted a 15-French or a 20-French tube: no statistically significant difference was noticed between the two in the symptomatic relief provided.
Conclusions: Our data support the hypothesis that PEG is an effective, safe, and well-tolerated method of achieving gastric decompression in cancer patients; ultrasound guidance was an interesting option in positioning a tube in difficult situations; a standard nutritional tube, namely 15 or 20 French in diameter, may be large enough to obtain excellent clinical results.