Side Effects of HIPEC Treatement

What kind of complications can occur?

After a HIPEC, complications occur in about 30% of patients. Complications that are possible after any surgical intervention, such as infection or bleeding, can occur after a HIPEC too. Some complications are more specific to a HIPEC:

  • An increased risk of leakage of bowel junctions (anastomoses) due to the heated chemotherapy. In case of increased risk of leakage, the surgeon can judge that it is safer to temporarily create a stoma (the bowel is exteriorized through the abdominal wall).
  • Fluid accumulation in the pleural cavity (the space between the lungs and the thoracic cage), especially when tumor was removed from the diaphragm. In case of tumor at the diaphragm, the surgeon will put a tube (thoracic drain) in the thorax as a preventive measure to drain any fluid after the operation for some days.
  • Slow emptying of the stomach for about two weeks (see above) Complications of the chemotherapy itself (lowering of white blood cell count, lowering of platelet count) can occur after a HIPEC, depending on the drug and the dose that is used, but are usually rare.

What kind of secondary effects can occur?

A HIPEC is a rather heavy operation which requires a lot of physical and psychological energy from the patient. A lot of patients feel very tired during about three months. Appetite can be lowered in this period. Moments of dejection are not unusual. A high prior motivation, correct information, and a good support by the family, the surgeon, the general practitioner, the diet consultant and the physiotherapy consultant are of major importance. After three months, quality of life returns to the level prior to the operation.