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Gynecol Oncol. 2006 Nov;103(2):383-90. Epub 2006 Sep 26.

Ovarian cancer: patterns of surgical care across the United States.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.



To describe the primary surgical procedures and procedures for intraoperative and postoperative complications, and factors associated with these procedures, in women with ovarian cancer.


Using hospital discharge data from nine states, obtained from the Heath Care Cost and Utilization Project from 1999 to 2002, we evaluated 10,432 women with a primary diagnosis of ovarian cancer who underwent at least an oophorectomy for additional procedural ICD-9 codes during their initial hospitalization.


Surgical procedures performed in addition to oophorectomy included: omentectomy/debulking 81.9%, hysterectomy 73.4%, lymph node dissection 41.4%, appendectomy 23.8%, bowel procedures 19.8%, laparoscopy 5.6%, diaphragmatic procedures 4.9%, colostomy 3.5%, and splenectomy 1.2%. Transfusions were given to 15.5% of patients. Intraoperative and postoperative procedures for complications were coded in 7.4% of patients, including repair of surgical injury 3.5%, procedures for cardiopulmonary complications 2.8%, reoperation 1.1%, and infection treatment 0.3%. In early stage disease 21.4% of women received no additional staging procedures and 46.8% did not have nodal sampling. In bivariate analysis of crude rates, factors associated with lymph node dissection were patient age, race, payer, teaching hospital status, hospital and surgeon volume, and surgeon specialty, p<.01. for all observations. Colostomies were performed by general surgeons in 23.1% of cases, by gynecologic oncologists in 2.7% of cases, and by obstetrician/gynecologists in no cases, p<.001. Complications were associated with age, payer, median household income, and stage, p<.001 for all observations. Complication rates were similar for low- and high-volume hospitals and surgeons. However, in higher volume settings, significantly more patients received debulking procedures, lymph node dissections, and additional surgical procedures, p<.001 for all observations.


A significant percentage of women with ovarian cancer did not receive recommended surgical procedures. Almost 50% of women with early stage disease were not adequately staged and in women with advanced disease, the percentage who had additional surgical procedures such as bowel resections was much lower than in institutions that report high optimal cytoreduction rates.

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