Clinician Article

Laparoscopy for diagnosing resectability of disease in women with advanced ovarian cancer.

  • van de Vrie R
  • Rutten MJ
  • Asseler JD
  • Leeflang MM
  • Kenter GG
  • Mol BWJ, et al.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Mar 23;3:CD009786. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009786.pub3. (Review)
PMID: 30907434
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  • Oncology - Gynecology
    Relevance - 7/7
    Newsworthiness - 3/7
  • Surgery - Oncology
    Relevance - 5/7
    Newsworthiness - 6/7
  • Gynecology
    Relevance - 5/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7


BACKGROUND: This is an update of a Cochrane Review that was originally published in 2014, Issue 2.The presence of residual disease after primary debulking surgery is a highly significant prognostic factor in women with advanced ovarian cancer. In up to 60% of women, residual tumour of > 1 cm is left behind after primary debulking surgery (defined as suboptimal debulking). These women might have benefited from neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) prior to interval debulking surgery instead of primary debulking surgery followed by chemotherapy. It is therefore important to select accurately those women who would best be treated with primary debulking surgery followed by chemotherapy from those who would benefit from NACT prior to surgery.

OBJECTIVES: To determine if performing a laparoscopy, in addition to conventional diagnostic work-up, in women suspected of advanced ovarian cancer is accurate in predicting the resectability of disease.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2018, Issue 6) in the Cochrane Library; MEDLINE via Ovid, Embase via Ovid, MEDION and Science Citation Index and Conference Proceedings Citation Index (ISI Web of Science) to July 2018. We also checked references of identified primary studies and review articles.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included studies that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of laparoscopy to determine the resectability of disease in women who are suspected of advanced ovarian cancer and planned to receive primary debulking surgery.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Pairs of review authors independently assessed the quality of included studies using QUADAS-2 and extracted data on study and participant characteristics, index test, target condition and reference standard. We extracted data for two-by-two tables and summarised these graphically. We calculated sensitivity and specificity and negative predictive values.

MAIN RESULTS: We included 18 studies, reporting on 14 cohorts of women (including 1563 participants), of which one was a randomised controlled trial (RCT). Laparoscopic assessment suggested that disease was suitable for optimal debulking surgery (no macroscopic residual disease or residual disease < 1 cm (negative predictive values)) in 54% to 96% of women who had macroscopic complete debulking surgery (no visible disease at end of laparotomy) and in 69% to 100% of women who had optimal debulking surgery (residual tumour < 1 cm at end of laparotomy).Only two studies avoided partial verification bias by operating on all women independent of laparoscopic findings, and provided data to calculate sensitivity and specificity. These two studies had no false positive laparoscopies (i.e. no women had a laparoscopy indicating unresectable disease and then went on to have optimal debulking surgery (no disease > 1 cm remaining)).Due to the large heterogeneity pooling of the data was not possible for meta-analysis.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Laparoscopy may be a useful tool to identify those women who have unresectable disease, as no women were inappropriately unexplored. However, some women had suboptimal primary debulking surgery, despite laparoscopy predicting optimal debulking and data are at high risk of verification bias as only two studies performed the reference standard (debulking laparotomy) in test (laparoscopy)-positive women. Using a prediction model does not increase the sensitivity and will result in more unnecessarily explored women, due to a lower specificity.

Clinical Comments


As a laparoscopist, I find these results give new information in predicting resectability of ovarian tumor using laparoscopy as a diagnostic step.

Oncology - Gynecology

This is well established in many units. There are believers and non-believers but this supports continued use.

Surgery - Oncology

The problem of this article in terms of practical application is the selection criteria for diagnostic laparoscopy. So, according to the authors themselves "the group of women for whom it is uncertain if primary debulking surgery is a good option should receive a laparoscopy." The false negative and false positive findings at laparoscopy remain high, and according to authors use of a prediction model does not increase the sensitivity and will result in more women with sub-optimal primary debulking surgery.

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