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Comparison of short-and long-term outcomes following either insertion of self-expanding metallic stents or emergency surgery in malignant large bowel obstruction

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Self-expanding metallic stents (SEMS) are now regarded as a safe and effective treatment for an acute obstructing colorectal cancer. SEMS insertion is an invasive procedure that could potentially worsen prognosis. This study assessed the short-and long-term outcomes in patients stented for acute large bowel obstruction and in patients who underwent primary emergency surgery.


We retrospectively identified 19 patients who underwent SEMS insertion and 23 patients who had primary emergency surgery for left-sided large bowel obstruction as the first presentation of colorectal cancer.


There were no significant differences between the 19 patients in the SEMS group and the 23 patients in the primary emergency surgery group in terms of demographics and tumour location and stage. Stent insertion was successful in 16 patients (84%). One patient died from a stent-related perforation and another had a stoma fashioned for stent migration. Stents were a definitive procedure in 2 patients with advanced disease and acted as a “bridge to surgery” in the remaining 12 patients. Compared to the primary surgery group, there was a trend towards a higher primary anastomosis rate in the SEMS group (p=0.08); there were no significant differences in length of hospital stay, 30-day mortality or complication rates between the groups. Long-term prognosis (estimated 3-year survival) did not differ significantly between the groups (p=0.54); this persisted when only curative resections were considered (p=0.80).


Preoperative stent insertion is a safe and effective treatment for large bowel obstruction, and may result in a higher primary anastomosis rate. Stent insertion does not seem to have a deleterious effect on prognosis.

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Correspondence to M. C. Parker.

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Dastur, J.K., Forshaw, M.J., Modarai, B. et al. Comparison of short-and long-term outcomes following either insertion of self-expanding metallic stents or emergency surgery in malignant large bowel obstruction. Tech Coloproctol 12, 51–55 (2008).

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