Is an elective diverting colostomy warranted in patients with an endoscopically obstructing rectal cancer before neoadjuvant chemotherapy?

Jitesh A. Patel, James W. Fleshman, Steven R. Hunt, Bashar Safar, Elisa H. Birnbaum, Anne Y. Lin, Matthew G. Mutch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Many surgeons prefer immediate diversion in patients with endoscopically obstructed rectal cancer before starting neoadjuvant chemotherapy. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to compare immediate neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy with diversion for endoscopically obstructed rectal cancer. DESIGN: This study is a retrospective review of patients with rectal adenocarcinoma treated from January 2000 to December 2009. Demographic, tumor, treatment, and outcome data were obtained. Data were analyzed by the use of the Fisher exact probability test and the Student t test. SETTINGS: This study was conducted at a tertiary care hospital/referral center. PATIENTS: Included were patients with a rectal adenocarcinoma unable to be traversed endoscopically but without clinical evidence of obstruction before the initiation of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy. Patients with recurrent tumors or those who did not complete neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy because of compliance were excluded. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcomes measured were the interval from diagnosis to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy initiation and resection and the incidence of complete obstruction. RESULTS: Eighty-five patients with endoscopically obstructed rectal cancer were identified; 16 underwent immediate diversion before neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (diverted group) and 69 were treated with immediate neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy. Five patients undergoing immediate neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy presented with bloating and distension; 2 were treated with dietary modification, and 3 (4.3%) progressed to complete obstruction following completion of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy and required diversion. Both groups were similar in age, tumor height, and surgical margin status. Patients undergoing diversion required a significantly greater number of permanent stomas and were associated with a higher rate of radical pelvic surgery. There was a significant delay in the initiation of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (p < 0.05) and proctectomy (p < 0.001) from the time of diagnosis in the diverted group compared with the immediate neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy group. The tumors of patients undergoing diversions were more likely to be unresectable following neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy. LIMITATIONS: This study was limited by its retrospective design and possible selection bias. CONCLUSIONS: Immediate diversion is unnecessary in endoscopically obstructed rectal cancer without clinical signs of obstruction. There appears to be a relationship between immediate diversion and delay in initiation of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy and proctectomy. We conclude that immediate neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in patients with endoscopically obstructed rectal cancer is safe and feasible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-255
Number of pages7
JournalDiseases of the colon and rectum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemotherapy
  • Colonic obstruction
  • Colonoscopy
  • Ostomy
  • Rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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