Appropriate triage allows aggressive primary debulking surgery with rates of morbidity and mortality comparable to interval surgery after chemotherapy

Deepa M. Narasimhulu, Aneesa Thannickal, Amanika Kumar, Amy L. Weaver, Michaela E. McGree, Carrie L. Langstraat, William A. Cliby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Morbidity and mortality (M/M) after primary debulking surgery (PDS) is often cited as a rationale for neoadjuvant chemotherapy and interval debulking surgery (IDS). We tested if using an evidence-based algorithm to identify patients fit for surgery would reduce M/M after PDS to that seen after IDS. Methods: We included women who underwent PDS or IDS for advanced epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) (1/2012–7/2016) guided by the use of a prospective triage algorithm. Outcomes were compared after applying inverse-probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) to adjust for covariate imbalance. Results: Of 334 included patients, 232 (69.5%) underwent PDS and 102 (30.5%) were triaged to IDS. Relative to IDS group, PDS patients were younger (63.9 vs 67.5 years, P=0.01), were less likely to have low albumin (16.8% vs. 32.4%, P<0.001), had longer median operative times (315 vs 263 min, P <0.001), more high complexity surgeries and fewer low complexity surgeries (27.2% vs. 11.8% and 18.5% vs 36.3% respectively, P<0.001). The rates of the following outcomes were comparable for PDS and IDS, respectively: successful cytoreduction (complete, 62.5% vs 66.7%, P=0.47 and optimal, 95.3% vs 98.0%, P=0.36), 30-day grade 3+ complications (IPTW-adjusted 18.3% vs. 12.9%, P=0.22), 90-day mortality (IPTW-adjusted, 2.2% vs. 3.8%, P=0.42), length of hospitalization (P=0.29), and postoperative chemotherapy delivery (P=0.83). 3-year overall survival was higher for PDS group (IPTW-adjusted 64.1% vs. 42.6%, P=0.001). Conclusions: Use of our validated triage strategy allowed us to offer 70% of women with advanced EOC PDS surgery. Despite more complex surgery, M/M after this approach is low and comparable to IDS, with similar rates of complete resection and superior OS. Use of a validated triage system should be utilized when considering PDS vs neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-687
Number of pages7
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • 90-day mortality
  • Epithelial ovarian cancer
  • Interval debulking surgery
  • Mayo triage algorithm
  • Postoperative morbidity and mortality
  • Primary debulking surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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