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HPB (Oxford). 2011 Jul;13(7):503-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1477-2574.2011.00331.x.

Pancreatic resection without routine intraperitoneal drainage.

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  • 1The Elkins Pancreas Center, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77479, USA.



Most surgeons routinely place intraperitoneal drains at the time of pancreatic resection but this practice has recently been challenged.


Evaluate the outcome when pancreatic resection is performed without operatively placed intraperitoneal drains.


In all, 226 consecutive patients underwent pancreatic resection. In 179 patients drains were routinely placed at the time of surgery and in 47 no drains were placed. Outcomes for these two cohorts were recorded in a prospective database and compared using the χ(2) - /Fisher's exact test for categorical variables, and Wilcoxon's test for continuous variables.


Demographic, surgical and pathological details were similar between the two cohorts. Elimination of routine intraperitoneal drainage did not increase the frequency or severity of serious complications. However, when all grades of complications were considered, the number of patients that experienced any complication (65% vs. 47%, P= 0.020) and the median complication severity grade (1 vs. 0, P= 0.027) were increased in the group that had drains placed at the time of surgery. Eliminating intra-operative drains was associated with decreased delayed gastric emptying (24% vs. 9%, P= 0.020) and a trend towards decreased wound infection (12% vs. 2%, P= 0.054). The readmission rate (9% vs. 17% P= 0.007) and number of patients requiring post-operative percutaneous drains (2% vs. 11%, P= 0.001) was higher in patients who did not have operatively placed drains but there was no difference in the re-operation rate (4% vs. 0%, P= 0.210).


Abandoning the practice of routine intraperitoneal drainage after pancreatic resection may not increase the incidence or severity of severe post-operative complications.

© 2011 International Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association.

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