A Propensity Score–Matched Analysis of Robotic vs Open Pancreatoduodenectomy on Incidence of Pancreatic Fistula

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The adoption of robotic pancreatoduodenectomy (RPD) is gaining momentum; however, its impact on major outcomes, including pancreatic fistula, has yet to be adequately compared with open pancreatoduodenectomy (OPD).


To demonstrate that use of RPD does not increase the incidence of clinically relevant pancreatic fistula (CR-POPF) compared with OPD.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Data were accrued from 2846 patients who underwent pancreatoduodenectomies (OPDs, n = 2661; RPDs, n = 185), performed by 51 surgeons at 17 institutions worldwide (2003-2015). All RPDs were conducted at a high-volume, academic, pancreatic surgery specialty center—in a standardized fashion—by surgeons who had surpassed the RPD learning curve. Propensity score matching was used to minimize bias from nonrandomized treatment assignment. The RPD and OPD cohorts were matched by propensity scores accounting for factors significantly associated with either undergoing robotic surgery or CR-POPF occurrence on logistic regression analysis. These variables included pancreatic gland texture, pancreatic duct diameter, intraoperative blood loss, pathologic findings of disease, and intraoperative drain placement.


Use of RPD or OPD.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The major outcome of interest was CR-POPF occurrence, which is the most common and morbid complication following pancreatoduodenectomy.


The overall cohort was 51.5% male, with a median age of 64 years (interquartile range, 56-72 years). The propensity score–matched cohort comprised 152 RPDs and 152 OPDs; all covariate imbalances were alleviated. After adjusting for potential confounders, undergoing RPD was associated with a reduced risk for CR-POPF incidence (OR, 0.4 [95% CI, 0.2-0.7]; P = .002) relative to OPD. Other predictors of risk-adjusted CR-POPF occurrence included soft pancreatic parenchyma (OR, 4.7 [95% CI, 3.4-6.6]; P < .001), pathologic findings of high-risk disease (OR, 1.4 [95% CI, 1.1-1.9]; P = .01), small pancreatic duct diameter (vs ≥5 mm: 2 mm, OR, 2.1 [95% CI, 1.4-3.1]; P < .001; ≤1 mm, OR, 1.8 [95% CI, 1.0-3.0]; P = .03), elevated intraoperative blood loss (vs ≤400 mL: 401-700 mL, OR, 1.5 [95% CI, 1.1-2.0]; P = .01; >1000 mL, OR, 2.1 [95% CI, 1.4-2.9]; P < .001), omission of intraoperative drain(s) (OR, 0.5 [95% CI, 0.3-0.8]; P = .005), and octreotide prophylaxis (OR, 3.1 [95% CI, 2.3-4.0]; P < .001). Patients undergoing RPD demonstrated similar CR-POPF rates compared with patients in the OPD cohort (6.6% vs 11.2%; P = .23). This relationship held for both grade B (6.6% vs 9.2%; P = .52) and grade C (0% vs 2.0%; P = .25) POPFs. Robotic pancreatoduodenectomy was also noninferior to OPD in terms of the occurrence of any complication (73.7% vs 66.4%; P = .21), severe complications (Accordion grade ≥3, 23.05% vs 23.7%; P > .99), hospital stay (median: 8 vs 8.5 days; P = .31), 30-day readmission (22.4% vs 21.7%; P > .99), and 90-day mortality (3.3% vs 1.3%; P = .38).

Conclusions and Relevance

To our knowledge, this is the first propensity score–matched analysis of robotic vs open pancreatoduodenectomy to date, and it demonstrates that RPD is noninferior to OPD in terms of pancreatic fistula development and other major postoperative outcomes.

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