Defining the role of surgery for complications after pancreatoduodenectomy

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Abstract

Background:

Although mortality rates following pancreatoduodenectomy have drastically reduced over the last few decades, high morbidity rates have continued to trouble pancreatic surgeons across the world. Interventional radiology has reduced the need for re-exploration for complications following pancreatoduodenectomy. There remain specific indications for re-exploration in such scenarios. It is thus pertinent to identify those clinical scenarios where surgery still has a role in managing complications of pancreatoduodenectomy. The aim of the study was to define the role of surgery for dealing with complications following pancreatoduodenectomy.

Methods:

One hundred and fifty-seven consecutive pancreatoduodenectomies carried out at a single institution between 1 January 2001 and 28 February 2007, were analysed. The database was looked into to identify patients who underwent re-exploration for complications and to define the indications for the exploration in these patients.

Results:

Out of the 157 pancreatoduodenectomies, there were, in all, 39 complications (24.2%) in 38 patients. Most of these complications were successfully managed conservatively and with the help of interventional radiology. Seventeen patients had to be re-explored (10.8%). The indications were primarily for haemorrhage, clinically significant pancreatic leaks, biliary leaks, adhesive intestinal obstruction and burst abdomen. The overall mortality rate was 3.1%. The mortality rate in the patients undergoing re-exploration was 11.7%.

Conclusion:

Early haemorrhage (from the pancreatic stump or anastomotic line), clinically significant pancreatic anastomotic leak with discharge from the main wound and an early biliary anastomotic leak are prime indications for re-exploration in patients with complications following pancreatoduodenectomy.

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