Preserving the Pancreas Graft: Outcomes of Surgical Repair of Duodenal Leaks in Enterically Drained Pancreas Allografts

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Duodenal leak remains a major cause of morbidity and graft loss in pancreas transplant recipients. The role and efficacy of surgical and image-guided interventions to salvage enterically drained grafts with a duodenal leak has yet to be defined.


We investigated the incidence, treatment, and outcome of duodenal leak in 426 pancreas transplantation recipients from 2000 to 2015.


Duodenal leak developed in 33 (7.8%) recipients after a median follow-up of 5.3 (range, 0.5-15.2) years. Most leaks occurred during the first year (n = 22; 67%), and most were located near the proximal and distal duodenal staple line. Graft pancreatectomy was performed in 8 patients as primary therapy because of unfavorable local and/or systemic conditions. Salvage was attempted in 25 patients using percutaneous drainage (n = 4), surgical drainage (n = 4), or surgical repair (n = 17). Percutaneous or surgical drainage failed to control the leak in 7 of these 8 patients, and all 7 ultimately required graft pancreatectomy for persistent leak and sepsis. Surgical repair salvaged 14 grafts, and 13 grafts continue to function after a median follow-up of 2.9 (range, 1.1-6.3) years after repair.


Our study shows that in selected patients a duodenal leak can be repaired successfully and safely in enterically drained grafts.

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