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J Gastrointest Surg. 2005 Dec;9(9):1293-9.

Management of delayed visceral arterial bleeding after pancreatic head resection.

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Department of Surgery, University of Freiburg, Germany.


Despite low mortality, postoperative complications are still relatively frequent after pancreatic head resection. The occurrence of delayed visceral arterial bleeding from erosions or pseudoaneurysms of branches of the celiac trunk or from the stump of the gastroduodenal artery is a rare but life-threatening complication and is probably underreported in the literature. During a 10-year period, we diagnosed and treated 12 patients (three referred from other hospitals) with severe visceral arterial bleeding, presenting 7 to 85 days after pancreatic head resection. Clinical presentation was gastrointestinal bleeding (seven patients) or abdominal bleeding (five patients). The bleeding source was identified by angiography in 10 of the 12 cases. Definitive bleeding control was achieved by angiography in six of the 12 patients (stent 2, coiling 4), or by surgery in five patients. None of the six patients with successful angiographic intervention required further surgery for bleeding control. One patient died due to hemorrhage before bleeding was controlled. Median transfusion requirement was 12.5 (range 3-37) units. Of five patients with interventional or surgical occlusion of the common hepatic artery, three developed hepatic abscesses and two had complications of the hepaticojejunostomy. One of those five patients died four months after definitive bleeding control because of recurrent hepatic abscesses. All other patients eventually recovered completely. We conclude that delayed arterial bleeding from visceral arteries is a rare but life-threatening complication after pancreatic head resection. Angiographic stenting with preservation of hepatic blood flow, if technically possible, represents the best treatment option.

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