Objective: To propose guidelines for treatment based on the study of early and late outcome after various surgical procedures for sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis (SEP). PRIMARY BACKGROUND DATA: SEP is rare. The main complication is intestinal obstruction. Ideal treatment is resection of the membrane, whenever possible. Mortality and morbidity, however, have not been well analyzed.
Methods: The case records and histopathological reports of 32 operated cases of SEP (18 centers during 16 years) were retrospectively studied. Patients underwent four types of procedures: group 1 (n = 5), membrane resection; group 2 (n = 12), enterolysis with partial excision of the membrane; group 3 (n = 7), intestinal resection, and group 4 (n = 8), exploratory laparotomy only. Five cases were considered as idiopathic. Medical and surgical antecedent history for the 27 other cases (6 patients had associations) included laparotomy for carcinoma (n = 14) or benign disorders (n = 5), beta-blocker treatment (n = 4), cirrhotic ascites (n = 4), generalized peritonitis (n = 3) and continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (n = 3). Indications for operation included subacute (n = 22) or acute intestinal obstruction (n = 6), abdominal mass (n = 8), other clinical presentations (n = 4) and asymptomatic SEP discovered during surgery for portacaval shunt (n = 1). Seven patients had two associated clinical presentations. All cirrhotic patients with ascites and the asymptomatic patient were in group 4. None of the imaging techniques (plain radiograms, barium follow-through, sonograms and CT scans) were formally contributive to the preoperative diagnosis of SEP.
Results: In group 1, both complicated patients, one with an inadvertent intraoperative intestinal wound, the other with a postoperative intestinal leak, healed uneventfully. In group 2, 4 inadvertent intraoperative intestinal wounds led to 4 postoperative leaks with 3 consequent deaths. One further patient died of persistent intestinal obstruction. In group 3, 1 inadvertent intestinal intraoperative wound healed uneventfully and 2 deaths, one due to persistent intestinal obstruction associated with anastomotic leakage and the other due to ventricular fibrillation, were noted. In group 4, there were no intraoperative wounds, no postoperative morbidity or deaths. The median follow-up was 49.5 months (range 4-142 months). Seven patients (1 or 2 in each group) experienced transient episodes of subacute intestinal obstruction between 1 month and 6 years after discharge, none of which required a repeat operation. Eight patients (in all groups) died of their initial cancer between 4 and 75 months after discharge.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that: (1) resection of the membrane should be attempted when feasible; (2) in case of inadvertent intestinal wound(s), the most proximal one should be brought out as a stoma, and partial resections should not be anastomosed primarily, but (3) no surgical treatment is required in ascites, asymptomatic SEP or subacute intestinal obstruction.