Management of large bowel obstruction with self-expanding metal stents. A multicentre retrospective study of factors determining outcome

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UK cancer guidelines recommend patients with colonic obstruction due to suspected malignancy be considered for stenting with a self-expanding metal stent (SEMS). Considerable variation in practice exists due to a lack of expertise, technical difficulties and other, as yet ill-defined features. This retrospective multi-centre study aims to determine the outcome following colonic stenting for large bowel obstruction and identify factors associated with successful intervention.


A regional programme of colonic stenting for large bowel obstruction, in five UK centres from 2005 to 2010 was evaluated for outcome including technical and clinical success, survival, complications and reoperation.


A SEMS was inserted in 334 patients, including 264 (79.0%) for palliation and 52 (15.6%) as a bridge to surgery. Technical success was achieved in 292 (87.4%) patients, with 46 (13.8%) experiencing a complication or technical failure. Reoperation was required in 39 (14.8%) patients stented for palliation of colorectal cancer of whom 16 (6.1%) subsequently required a colostomy. A one-stage primary anastomosis was achieved in 35 (67.3%) of the 52 patients undergoing stenting as a bridge to resection. Technical success did not vary by indication or site of obstruction (P = 0.60) but was higher for operators who had performed more than 10 procedures (OR 3.34, P = 0.001). ASA grade ≥3 predicted a worse clinical outcome (OR 0.43, P = 0.04). The through-the-scope (TTS) endoscopy technique was more successful than radiological placement alone (90.3% vs 74.8%, P < 0.001).


Experienced operators using a TTS technique achieved a better outcome for the emergency management of large bowel obstruction. Older, sicker patients and those with extracolonic and benign strictures fared less well.

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