To critically analyze a large single-institution experience with distal pancreatectomy (DP), with particular attention to the risk factors, outcome, and management of the postoperative pancreatic fistula (PF).
Tertiary referral center.
A total of 232 consecutive patients with pancreatic or extrapancreatic disease necessitating DP over 21 years.
Twenty-one patients underwent spleen-preserving DP, 117 underwent DP with splenectomy, and 94 underwent DP with multiorgan resection.
Main Outcome Measures
The perioperative and postoperative data of patients who underwent DP were analyzed. This included factors associated with postoperative morbidity with particular attention to the PF (defined by the International Study Group of Pancreatic Fistula) and changing trends in operative and perioperative data during the study period.
The overall operative morbidity and mortality were 47% (107 patients) and 3% (7 patients), respectively. During the study period, the rates of resection increased from 3 cases to 23 per year, and increasingly these were performed for smaller and incidental lesions. The morbidity rate remained unchanged, but there was a decline in postoperative stay and the need for care in the intensive care unit. Pancreatic fistulas occurred in 72 patients (31%); 41 (18%) were grade A, 13 (6%) grade B, and 18 (8%) grade C. Increased weight, higher American Society of Anesthesiologists score, blood loss greater than 1 L, increased operation time, decreased albumin level, and sutured closure of the stump without main duct ligation were associated with a postoperative PF on univariate analysis. A DP with splenectomy was associated with a higher incidence of grade B or C PF and non–PF-related complications. Ninety-two percent of PFs were successfully managed nonoperatively. Clinical outcomes correlated well with PF grading, as evidenced by the progressive increase in outcome measures such as postoperative stay, readmissions, reoperations, radiologic interventions, and non–PF-related complications from grade A to C PFs.
Pancreatic fistula is the most common complication after DP and its incidence varies depending on the definition applied. Several risk factors for developing a PF were identified. Splenic preservation after DP is safe. The grade of a PF correlates well with clinical outcomes, and most PFs may be managed nonoperatively.