Medical treatment in the management of deep endometriosis infiltrating the proximal rectum and sigmoid colon: A comprehensive literature review

Paolo Vercellini, Laura Buggio, Alessandra Borghi, Ermelinda Monti, Umberto Gattei, Maria P. Frattaruolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A comprehensive literature review was performed to evaluate the effect of various hormonal therapies, in terms of variations of intestinal and pain complaints and of patient satisfaction with treatment, in women with symptomatic, non-severely sub-occlusive endometriosis infiltrating the proximal rectum and sigmoid colon. A MEDLINE search through PubMed from 2000 to 2018 was conducted to identify all original English language articles published on medical treatment for colorectal endometriosis. Additional reports were identified by systematically reviewing reference lists and using the "similar articles" function in PubMed. A total of 420 women with colorectal endometriosis treated with combined oral contraceptives, progestins, gonadotropin releasing-hormone (GnRH) agonists and aromatase inhibitors have been described in eight case series, two retrospective cohort studies and four case reports. Published data consistently suggest that several hormonal medications can control most symptoms associated with intestinal endometriosis, provided the relative bowel lumen stenosis is less than 60%. Patients with irritative-type symptoms appear to respond better than those with constipation. Overall, about two-thirds of women were satisfied with the treatment received, independently of the drug used. Progestins are the compound supported by the largest body of evidence. The addition of aromatase inhibitors or, alternatively, the use of GnRH agonists does not seem to be associated with better outcomes. Long-term treatment with a progestin should be proposed as an alternative to surgery to patients with non-severely sub-occlusive endometriosis infiltrating the proximal rectum and sigmoid colon who are not seeking conception. The final decision should be shared together with the woman, respecting her preferences and priorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)942-955
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Volume97
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Bowel endometriosis
  • Colorectal endometriosis
  • Endometriosis
  • Medical therapy
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Pelvic pain
  • Progestins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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