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1.  Challenges in diagnosing adhesive small bowel obstruction 
Adhesive small bowel obstruction (ASBO) is the most frequently encountered surgical disorder of the small intestine. Up to 80% of ASBO cases resolve spontaneously and do not require invasive treatment. It is important to identify such patients that will benefit from conservative treatment in order to prevent unnecessarily exposing them to the risks associated with surgical intervention, such as morbidity and further adhesion formation. For the remaining ASBO patients, timely surgical intervention is necessary to prevent small bowel strangulation, which may cause intestinal ischemia and bowel necrosis. While early identification of these patients is key to decreasing ASBO-related morbidity and mortality, the non-specific signs and laboratory findings upon clinic presentation limit timely diagnosis and implementation of appropriate clinical management. Combining the clinical presentation findings with those from other diagnostic imaging modalities, such as abdominal X-ray, computed tomography-scan and water-soluble contrast studies, will improve diagnosis of ASBO and help clinicians to better evaluate the potential of conservative management as a safe strategy for a particular patient. Nonetheless, patients who present with moderate findings by all these approaches continue to represent a challenge. A new diagnostic strategy is urgently needed to further improve our ability to identify early signs of strangulated bowel, and this diagnostic modality should be able to indicate when surgical management is required. A number of potential serum markers have been proposed for this purpose, including intestinal fatty acid binding protein and α-glutathione S transferase. On-going research is attempting to clearly define their diagnostic utility and to optimize their potential role in determining which patients should be managed surgically.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v19.i43.7489
PMCID: PMC3837247  PMID: 24616565
Adhesive small bowel obstruction; Diagnosis; Clinical management; Biological markers; Intestinal fatty acid binding protein; α-glutathione S transferase
2.  Peritoneal carcinomatosis of colorectal origin: Incidence, prognosis and treatment options 
Peritoneal carcinomatosis (PC) is one manifestation of metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC). Tumor growth on intestinal surfaces and associated fluid accumulation eventually result in bowel obstruction and incapacitating levels of ascites, which profoundly affect the quality of life for affected patients. PC appears resistant to traditional 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy, and surgery was formerly reserved for palliative purposes only. In the absence of effective treatment, the historical prognosis for these patients was extremely poor, with an invariably fatal outcome. These poor outcomes likely explain why PC secondary to CRC has received little attention from oncologic researchers. Thus, data are lacking regarding incidence, clinical disease course, and accurate treatment evaluation for patients with PC. Recently, population-based studies have revealed that PC occurs relatively frequently among patients with CRC. Risk factors for developing PC have been identified: right-sided tumor, advanced T-stage, advanced N-stage, poor differentiation grade, and younger age at diagnosis. During the past decade, both chemotherapeutical and surgical treatments have achieved promising results in these patients. A chance for long-term survival or even cure may now be offered to selected patients by combining radical surgical resection with intraperitoneal instillation of heated chemotherapy. This combined procedure has become known as hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy. This editorial outlines recent advancements in the medical and surgical treatment of PC and reviews the most recent information on incidence and prognosis of this disease. Given recent progress, treatment should now be considered in every patient presenting with PC.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i39.5489
PMCID: PMC3482634  PMID: 23112540
Colorectal cancer; Peritoneal carcinomatosis; Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy; Chemotherapy; Prognosis
3.  The CARTS study: Chemoradiation therapy for rectal cancer in the distal rectum followed by organ-sparing transanal endoscopic microsurgery 
BMC Surgery  2011;11:34.
Background
The CARTS study is a multicenter feasibility study, investigating the role of rectum saving surgery for distal rectal cancer.
Methods/Design
Patients with a clinical T1-3 N0 M0 rectal adenocarcinoma below 10 cm from the anal verge will receive neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy (25 fractions of 2 Gy with concurrent capecitabine). Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery (TEM) will be performed 8 - 10 weeks after the end of the preoperative treatment depending on the clinical response.
Primary objective is to determine the number of patients with a (near) complete pathological response after chemoradiation therapy and TEM. Secondary objectives are the local recurrence rate and quality of life after this combined therapeutic modality. A three-step analysis will be performed after 20, 33 and 55 patients to ensure the feasibility of this treatment protocol.
Discussion
The CARTS-study is one of the first prospective multicentre trials to investigate the role of a rectum saving treatment modality using chemoradiation therapy and local excision. The CARTS study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01273051)
doi:10.1186/1471-2482-11-34
PMCID: PMC3295682  PMID: 22171697
4.  The strengths and limitations of routine staging before treatment with abdominal CT in colorectal cancer 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:433.
Background
Advanced colorectal cancer (CRC), either locally advanced, metastasized (mCRC) or both, is present in a relevant proportion of patients. The chances on curation of advanced CRC are continuously improving with modern multi-modality treatment options. For incurable CRC the focus lies on palliation of symptoms, which is not necessarily a resection of the primary tumor. Both situations motivate adequate staging before treatment in CRC. This prospective observational study evaluates the outcomes after the introduction of routine staging with abdominal CT before treatment.
Methods
In a prospective observational study of 612 consecutive patients (2007-2009), the ability of abdominal CT to find liver metastases (LM), peritoneal carcinomatosis (PC) and T4 stage in colon cancer (CC) was analysed.
Results
Advanced CRC was present in 58% of patients, mCRC in 31%. The ability to find LM was excellent (99%), cT4 stage CC good (86%) and PC poor (33%). In the group of surgical patients with emergency presentations, the incidences of both mCRC (51%) and locally advanced colon cancer (LACC) (69%) were higher than in the elective group (20% and 26% respectively). Staging tended to be omitted more often in the emergency group (35% versus 12% in elective surgery).
Conclusions
The strengths of staging with abdominal CT are to find LM and LACC, however it fails in diagnosing PC. On grounds of the incidence of advanced CRC, staging is warranted in patients with emergency presentations as well.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-433
PMCID: PMC3228755  PMID: 21982508
5.  Transanal endoscopic microsurgery versus endoscopic mucosal resection for large rectal adenomas (TREND-study) 
BMC Surgery  2009;9:4.
Background
Recent non-randomized studies suggest that extended endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) is equally effective in removing large rectal adenomas as transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM). If equally effective, EMR might be a more cost-effective approach as this strategy does not require expensive equipment, general anesthesia and hospital admission. Furthermore, EMR appears to be associated with fewer complications.
The aim of this study is to compare the cost-effectiveness and cost-utility of TEM and EMR for the resection of large rectal adenomas.
Methods/design
Multicenter randomized trial among 15 hospitals in the Netherlands. Patients with a rectal adenoma ≥ 3 cm, located between 1–15 cm ab ano, will be randomized to a TEM- or EMR-treatment strategy. For TEM, patients will be treated under general anesthesia, adenomas will be dissected en-bloc by a full-thickness excision, and patients will be admitted to the hospital. For EMR, no or conscious sedation is used, lesions will be resected through the submucosal plane in a piecemeal fashion, and patients will be discharged from the hospital. Residual adenoma that is visible during the first surveillance endoscopy at 3 months will be removed endoscopically in both treatment strategies and is considered as part of the primary treatment.
Primary outcome measure is the proportion of patients with recurrence after 3 months. Secondary outcome measures are: 2) number of days not spent in hospital from initial treatment until 2 years afterwards; 3) major and minor morbidity; 4) disease specific and general quality of life; 5) anorectal function; 6) health care utilization and costs. A cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analysis of EMR against TEM for large rectal adenomas will be performed from a societal perspective with respectively the costs per recurrence free patient and the cost per quality adjusted life year as outcome measures.
Based on comparable recurrence rates for TEM and EMR of 3.3% and considering an upper-limit of 10% for EMR to be non-inferior (beta-error 0.2 and one-sided alpha-error 0.05), 89 patients are needed per group.
Discussion
The TREND study is the first randomized trial evaluating whether TEM or EMR is more cost-effective for the treatment of large rectal adenomas.
Trial registration number
(trialregister.nl) NTR1422
doi:10.1186/1471-2482-9-4
PMCID: PMC2664790  PMID: 19284647
6.  Preoperative biliary drainage for periampullary tumors causing obstructive jaundice; DRainage vs. (direct) OPeration (DROP-trial) 
BMC Surgery  2007;7:3.
Background
Surgery in patients with obstructive jaundice caused by a periampullary (pancreas, papilla, distal bile duct) tumor is associated with a higher risk of postoperative complications than in non-jaundiced patients. Preoperative biliary drainage was introduced in an attempt to improve the general condition and thus reduce postoperative morbidity and mortality. Early studies showed a reduction in morbidity. However, more recently the focus has shifted towards the negative effects of drainage, such as an increase of infectious complications. Whether biliary drainage should always be performed in jaundiced patients remains controversial. The randomized controlled multicenter DROP-trial (DRainage vs. Operation) was conceived to compare the outcome of a 'preoperative biliary drainage strategy' (standard strategy) with that of an 'early-surgery' strategy, with respect to the incidence of severe complications (primary-outcome measure), hospital stay, number of invasive diagnostic tests, costs, and quality of life.
Methods/design
Patients with obstructive jaundice due to a periampullary tumor, eligible for exploration after staging with CT scan, and scheduled to undergo a "curative" resection, will be randomized to either "early surgical treatment" (within one week) or "preoperative biliary drainage" (for 4 weeks) and subsequent surgical treatment (standard treatment). Primary outcome measure is the percentage of severe complications up to 90 days after surgery. The sample size calculation is based on the equivalence design for the primary outcome measure. If equivalence is found, the comparison of the secondary outcomes will be essential in selecting the preferred strategy. Based on a 40% complication rate for early surgical treatment and 48% for preoperative drainage, equivalence is taken to be demonstrated if the percentage of severe complications with early surgical treatment is not more than 10% higher compared to standard treatment: preoperative biliary drainage. Accounting for a 10% dropout, 105 patients are needed in each arm resulting in a study population of 210 (alpha = 0.95, beta = 0.8).
Discussion
The DROP-trial is a randomized controlled multicenter trial that will provide evidence whether or not preoperative biliary drainage is to be performed in patients with obstructive jaundice due to a periampullary tumor.
doi:10.1186/1471-2482-7-3
PMCID: PMC1828149  PMID: 17352805

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