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World J Surg. 2011 May;35(5):1110-7. doi: 10.1007/s00268-011-1022-x.

High surgical morbidity following distal pancreatectomy: still an unsolved problem.

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Department of General, Visceral and Thoracic Surgery, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistra├če 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany.



High surgical morbidity following distal pancreatectomy, especially pancreatic fistula, remains an unsolved problem. The aim of this study was to identify potential risk factors for surgical morbidity with a focus on the development of pancreatic fistula.


Clinicopathologic parameters were collected for 283 patients who underwent distal pancreatectomy between January 2000 and May 2010. Logistic regression analyses were performed to identify potential risk factors for surgical morbidity and pancreatic fistula.


Spleen-preserving pancreatectomy was carried out in 12% of all cases and multivisceral resections were performed in 37.8%. For closure of the pancreatic remnant, three different techniques were used: hand-sewn suture in 44.5%, pancreaticojejunal anastomosis in 24%, and closure by stapler in 31.5%. Overall morbidity and mortality were 53 and 3.5%. Surgical morbidity was observed in 50.2% of all cases and pancreatic fistula in 24%. The stapling group had significantly higher surgical morbidity at 65.2% (p=0.001) and the most pancreatic fistulas, though this did not reach statistical significance (p=0.189). Univariate and multivariate logistic analyses indicated that closure by stapler [odds ratio (OR)=3.61; p<0.001] is a risk factor for surgical morbidity.


Closure of the pancreatic remnant by using a stapling device was associated with an increased risk of surgical morbidity. With an increasing number of laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies being performed, further studies analyzing the use of stapling devices and newer closure techniques are needed.

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