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Treatment Patterns, Outcomes, and Costs for Bowel Obstruction in Ovarian Cancer
  1. Rudy S. Suidan, MD, MS*,
  2. Weiguo He, PhD,
  3. Charlotte C. Sun, DrPH*,
  4. Hui Zhao, PhD,
  5. Lois M. Ramondetta, MD*,
  6. Brian D. Badgwell, MD,
  7. Diane C. Bodurka, MD, MPH*,
  8. Karen H. Lu, MD*,
  9. Sharon H. Giordano, MD, MPH and
  10. Larissa A. Meyer, MD, MPH*
  1. * Division of Surgery, Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine;
  2. Department of Health Services Research; and
  3. Division of Surgery, Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Larissa A. Meyer, MD, MPH, Division of Surgery, Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1155 Herman Pressler, CPB 6.3271, Unit 1362, Houston, TX 77030. E-mail: lmeyer{at}


Objective The aim of this study was to assess treatment patterns, outcomes, and costs for bowel obstruction in ovarian cancer.

Methods/Materials All patients with stage II to IV ovarian cancer who were admitted for bowel obstruction greater than or equal to 6 months after cancer diagnosis from 2000 to 2011 were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry–Medicare database. Management strategies and outcomes of bowel obstruction were compared.

Results Among 1397 women with bowel obstruction, 562 (40%) underwent surgery, and 154 (11%) had a gastrostomy or jejunostomy (G/J) tube placed. Thirty-four percent of patients who underwent surgery subsequently received chemotherapy, compared with 8% of those managed with a G/J tube (odds ratio, 4.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.7–8.8). Thirty-day complications were higher for patients in the surgery group compared with those in the tube group (69% vs 46%; odds ratio, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.8–3.7), as were mean adjusted 30-day total costs ($28,872 vs $18,528, P < 0.001). Median survival was greater for women who underwent surgery compared with those who had a G/J tube (5.3 vs 1.2 months; adjusted hazard ratio, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.25–0.38). The median survival of patients in whom surgical correction failed and required G/J tube placement during the same inpatient admission was 2.6 months. Women who received postintervention chemotherapy had improved survival compared with those who did not in both the surgery (17.0 vs 2.8 months, P < 0.001) and G/J tube (5.7 vs 1.0 months, P < 0.001) groups.

Conclusions In women with ovarian cancer who develop bowel obstruction, surgery may benefit a subset of patients, likely related to the ability to receive subsequent chemotherapy. Efforts to identify those who derive no benefit may reduce unnecessary laparotomy, along with its associated complications and costs. Given this population's limited survival, patient preferences should be evaluated in future studies assessing the management of bowel obstruction.

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Surgery
  • Gastrostomy tube
  • Survival

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  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.