Emergency surgery for large bowel obstruction caused by cancer

Željko Bušić, Kristijan Ćupurdija, Marijan Kolovrat, Dražen Servis, Fedor Amić, Mislav Čavka, Leonardo Patrlj, Igor Nikolić, Vlatka Čavka


There are several options for surgical treatment of large bowel obstruction caused by cancer, depending on location of obstruction, intraoperative local findings (perforation, peritonitis, bowel dilatation proximal to obstruction) and patients' condition. Resection and anastomosis as one stage surgery would be preffered procedure. Anastomotic leakage, on the other hand, highly elevates risk of mortality and mobidity. The most important question is whether  to, in resectable cases, perform primary resection with anastomosis or not. 

This study was retrospective and included 40 patients that have undergone emergency surgery for large bowel obstruction caused by cancer. According to whether  resection and  anastomosis was made at initial surgery or not, patients were grouped in group A (N=18) and group B(N=21), respectively.  We  have analysed the type of surgical procedure, days of hospitalization, mortality, anastomotic leakeage, wound infection and other postoperative complications.

Our results show that there is no major difference in mortality and morbidity in these two groups, suggesting that for selected patients primary resection and anastomosis is a safe option of tratment with acceptable risk.

Since there are no strict guidelines or scorring system which would  point the tratment option the decision about the choice of procedure still remains the burden of surgeon and depends on its experience and subspeciality.

Our experience recomends primary resection and anastomosis except in cases of bowel perforation on tumor site , in cases of extreme dilatation and atony of bowel proximal to obstruction site and severe hypoproteinemia and anemia.

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