Management of obstructive colorectal cancer with endoscopic stenting followed by single-stage surgery: open or laparoscopic resection?
BACKGROUND Obstruction of the left colon may be the first manifestation of colorectal cancer. Resection of the colonic segment involved and the construction of an end colostomy (Hartman's procedure) is the most frequent treatment. Alternatives to the placement of a stoma are subtotal colectomy or intraoperative lavage of the colon and primary anastomosis, but their application depends on intraoperative findings and the availability of a skilled surgeon. The use of an expandable stent (SEMS) can enhance the feasibility of laparoscopic colectomy, avoiding the need for a colostomy and offering the advantages of a combination of two minimally invasive procedures. STUDY DESIGN Between 1997 and 2004, an SEMS was placed in 11 cases of left colonic obstruction due to cancer, the obstruction being successfully resolved in each case. Seven patients were approached by laparoscopy to attempt the definitive colectomy. We evaluated the location and pathological characteristics of the tumor, effectiveness and complications of SEMS insertion, time interval between the insertion of SEMS and laparoscopic surgery, and postoperative data. RESULTS The tumors were situated in the recto-sigma (1 case), sigma (3 cases) and descending colon (3 cases). Immediate relief of the obstruction was achieved in all cases after SEMS insertion of the stent, and oral diet was started at 24 h. The 7 patients were operated on an average of 8 days (range 6-14) after insertion of the stent. Conversion to open surgery was necessary in one case for reasons not related to the stent. CONCLUSIONS Preliminary results of the combination of SEMS and elective laparoscopic surgery demonstrate that the procedure is feasible and that it presents all the clinical advantages of a minimally invasive approach. The procedure is a valid alternative to traditional major urgent surgery.