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Oncology (Williston Park). 1998 Jan;12(1):51-4; discussion 54, 60, 62, passim.

Use of saline-filled tissue expanders to protect the small bowel from radiation.

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Department of Surgery, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Erratum in

  • Oncology (Huntingt) 1998 Mar;12(3):421.


Over the past 7 years, 58 saline-filled tissues expanders (TEs) have been temporarily placed in 57 patients. The indications for TE placement were: small bowel exclusion from external-beam radiation therapy (N = 25), interstitial RT (N = 16), or both (N = 13) when there was insufficient omentum to provide adequate exclusion. Of the 57 patients, 24 had primary tumors (4 colon, 4 endometrial, and 11 rectal cancer; 3 sarcomas, 1 schwannoma; and 1 vaginal cancer). The remaining 33 patients (58%) had recurrent cancers (3 anal, 8 colon, and 16 rectal cancers; and 6 sarcomas), of whom 26 (79%) had received prior RT. Of the 58 TEs, 15 were placed superior to the iliac vessels and 43 were placed in the pelvis. Complications included post-withdrawal enterocutaneous fistulae in four patients, TE deflation in three patients, and TE extrusion in one patient. Improvements in TE design and removal techniques have reduced the incidence of these complications. When no native tissue is available for small bowel exclusion, the saline-filled TE is a safe, effective substitute.

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