Background and aims: Intestinal obstruction is a frequent cause of death in patients suffering from gynecological cancer, who have undergone multiple treatment in the form of surgery and/or chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The usual form of rescue treatment consists in the use of a nasogastric tube to administer support and analgesic treatment. Surgical gastrostomy is not a viable proposition in these extremely weak patients with large masses compressing and displacing the stomach. Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG), a technique first introduced for nutritional purposes, can be beneficially used to achieve decompression in these patients.
Methods: PEG was performed in a total of 67 patients who had already undergone multiple treatment for abdominal-pelvic neoplasia with upper gastrointestinal obstruction, who could no longer be operated and who had a life expectancy of less than sixty days. In three cases positioning was not possible owing to the lack of transillumination of the gastric and abdominal wall. 54/64 patients had previously undergone at least two operations.
Results: Esophagogastric lesions were found in 29% of patients, some of which were attributed to the nasogastric tube. Symptomatic wellbeing was obtained in 76.5% a few days after PEG. PEG remained in situ from 4 to 472 days. Slight peristomal infection was observed in 9% of cases. In seven cases it was necessary to add octreotide owing to the reappearance of symptoms.
Conclusions: PEG is relatively easy to use and allows obstructive symptoms to be resolved in the majority of patients. Special medical skills are not required and the patient may be easily managed at home together with support therapy and pain management. Once PEG has been performed, it is possible to take fluids and semi-liquid foods, offering the patient a chance to taste flavours which have often been forgotten. PEG enables neoadjuvant chemotherapy to be performed in patients with previously untreated intestinal obstruction.