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Gynecol Oncol. 1991 Jan;40(1):38-41.

Intestinal surgery performed on gynecologic cancer patients.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814.


A retrospective review covering a 9-year period revealed 113 patients who underwent 157 major bowel procedures during 130 operations performed solely by gynecologic oncology surgeons. Forty-eight percent of the operations were done for tumor cytoreduction, and 33% were performed for a bowel obstruction. Other indications included colostomy closure, fistula repair, resection for multiple enterotomies, temporary diversions, repair of perforated bowel, treatment for severe proctosigmoiditis, management of ureteral stricture, treatment for vulvar necrosis, and resection of an incidental small bowel tumor. Of the 157 procedures, 44% were colostomies, 32% were bowel resections with reanastomosis, 9% were urinary conduits, 6% were intestinal bypass procedures, 5% were colostomy closures, and 4% were ileostomies. Postoperative complications occurred in 32% of the 130 operations. These included wound infection, death, sepsis, fistula formation, urinary tract infection, unexplained febrile morbidity, anastomotic leakage, stomal infarction, adult respiratory distress syndrome, bowel obstruction, deep venous thrombosis, and wound hematoma. Four of the eight deaths were due to tumor progression, three were from sepsis, and one was from adult respiratory distress syndrome. Of the 130 operations, 89 (68%) were associated with no complications. These data support the concept that gynecologic oncology surgeons are able to perform intestinal operations as therapy for gynecologic malignancies with acceptable complication rates. Since a thorough understanding of the natural history of the cancer, familiarity with alternative therapeutic options, and knowledge of the prognosis are important in making operative decisions, and since gynecologic oncologists are technically capable of performing operations on the small bowel and colon, referral of patients with a primary or recurrent gynecologic malignancy or with a subsequent intestinal complication after initial therapy should be directed to the gynecologic oncologist whenever possible.

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