Management of Malignant Bowel Obstruction in Home Care
Menahem Sasson, Pesach Shvartzman
Dept. of Family Medicine, Kupat Holim Klalit and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheba
Malignant bowel obstruction occurs in about 10% of those with advanced abdominal cancer and in about 25% of those with advanced pelvic cancer. Such patients usually develop nausea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal dilatation and colicky pain. Traditional therapy consists of intravenous fluids and decompression by duodenal tube, gastrostomy or operation but postoperative mortality is high. Treatment requires hospitalization and therefor such patients have not been considered candidates for home care.
Palliative medical techniques can cope with this syndrome and allow home care. Hypodermoclysis, non-prokinetic anti-emetics like haloperidol and scopolamine, octeotride, corticosteroids, and narcotics for severe abdominal pain can alleviate symptoms. Medications can be combined and infused subcutaneously in a syringe driver and patients can remain with their families in their natural environment. Such techniques can give these patients who have short life expectancies reasonable quality of life.