Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics

, Volume 287, Issue 4, pp 733–741 | Cite as

Diaphragmatic surgery during cytoreduction for primary or recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer: a review of the literature

Gynecologic Oncology



Surgical cytoreduction remains a cornerstone in the management of patients with advanced and recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). Diaphragm involvement is a common site of metastases and represents a major limit in the achievement of an optimal cytoreduction. The purpose of this manuscript is to discuss the rationale of diaphragmatic surgery and the morbidity related to this procedure in advanced and recurrent EOC.


A search of the National Library of Medicine’s MEDLINE/PubMed database until August 2012 was performed using the keywords: ‘diaphragmatic surgery’ and ‘ovarian cancer’.


Surgical treatment of diaphragmatic disease in advanced stage and recurrent EOC patients leads to high rates of optimal cytoreduction. It also correlates with an improved survival in advanced-stage EOC. The most common post-operative complication is a pleural effusion with rates ranging from 10 to 60 %. Pleural effusions are more common after diaphragmatic resections as compared to diaphragmatic stripping or coagulation. The need for post-operative thoracentesis or chest tube placement is low. The routine use of intraoperative trans-diaphragmatic decompression of pneumothorax reduces these rates. Diaphragmatic lesions at the time of interval debulking are less frequent and smaller in size. The morbidity of diaphragmatic surgery in this setting is lower as compared to a primary debulking; this is probably related to the fewer multivisceral radical procedures performed.


Diaphragmatic surgery at the time of cytoreduction increases rates of optimal cytoreduction and improves survival in advanced-stage and recurrent EOC patients. Gynecologic oncologists should be confident with its indication, technique and morbidity.


Cytoreduction Debulking surgery Diaphragmatic surgery Morbidity Ovarian cancer 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of Genova Medical School, IRCCS, AOU San Martino ISTGenoaItaly

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