Pharmacologic Management of Malignant Bowel Obstruction: When Surgery Is Not an Option


Malignant bowel obstruction (MBO) complicates 3%-15% of cancers and often necessitates inpatient admission. Hospitalists are increasingly involved in treating patients with MBO and coordinating their care across multiple subspecialties. Direct resolution of the obstruction via surgical or interventional means is always preferable. When such options are not possible, pharmacological treatments are the mainstay of therapy. Medications such as somatostatin analogs, steroids, H2-blockers, and other modalities can be effective in palliation and possible resolution of obstruction. Awareness of these pharmacologic therapies can aid hospitalists in treating patients who are confronted with this devastating condition.

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