Topic Highlight
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World J Gastroenterol. Oct 28, 2010; 16(40): 5020-5023
Published online Oct 28, 2010. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i40.5020
Quality of life after surgery of the alimentary tract
Marco Scarpa
Marco Scarpa, Department of Oncological Surgery, Venetian Oncology Institute (IOV-IRCCS), Via Gattamelata 64, Padova 35128, Italy
Author contributions: Scarpa M wrote this paper.
Correspondence to: Marco Scarpa, MD, PhD, Department of Oncological Surgery, Venetian Oncology Institute (IOV-IRCCS), Via Gattamelata 64, Padova 35128, Italy.
Telephone: +39-49-8211695 Fax: +39-49-8211694
Received: August 1, 2010
Revised: September 6, 2010
Accepted: September 13, 2010
Published online: October 28, 2010

In recent decades, patient-reported outcomes have become important in clinical medicine. Nowadays, health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is considered a primary outcome in many clinical trials, and it is often the major criterion for judging treatment success. At the beginning of the 21st century, morbidity and mortality rates after surgery of the alimentary tract have dropped dramatically and they can no longer be considered the only outcome measures to determine the success of a surgical procedure. QOL can yield a definitely more patient-orientated measure of outcome that provides us with a more formal measure of the patient’s judgment and desires, which can influence treatment decisions. Nevertheless, despite a very large number of published papers on HRQOL, there is some skepticism on the value of HRQOL and other patient-related outcomes. Therefore, this topic highlight aims to assess how QOL after surgery of the alimentary tract is covered in the medical literature. Different reviews have analyzed the topic according to different points of view: benign and malignant disease; curative and palliative treatment; open and minimally invasive surgical approach; traditional and newly introduced surgical procedures. This topic highlight does not aim to cover all the possible diseases or different surgical procedures, but it does describe the different approaches in order to give the reader a broad spectrum of analysis of QOL after surgery. This quick overview could stimulate the reader to form his/her own opinion about how to use this primary outcome measure.

Keywords: Patient-reported outcomes, Health-related quality of life, Esophageal cancer, Gallbladder stones, Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Colonic diverticular disease, Colorectal cancer, Rectal prolapse