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HPB (Oxford). 2011 Nov;13(11):792-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1477-2574.2011.00359.x. Epub 2011 Aug 1.

Routine nasogastric suction may be unnecessary after a pancreatic resection.

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



Most surgeons routinely place a nasogastric tube at the time of a pancreatic resection. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the outcome when a pancreatic resection is performed without routine post-operative nasogastric suction.


One hundred consecutive patients underwent a pancreatic resection (64 a pancreaticoduodenectomy, 98% pylorus sparing and 36 a distal pancreatectomy). In the first cohort (50 patients), a nasogastric tube was routinely placed at the time of surgery and in the second cohort (50 patients) the nasogastric was removed in the operating room. Outcomes for these two cohorts were recorded in a prospective database and compared using the χ(2) or Fisher's exact test and Wilcoxon's rank-sum test.


Demographical, surgical and pathological details were similar between the two cohorts. A post-operative complication occurred in 22 (44%) in each group (P= 1.000). There were no statistically significant differences in the frequency or severity of complications, or length of stay between groups. The spectrum of complications experienced by the two cohorts was similar including complications that could potentially be related to the use of nasogastric suction such as delayed gastric emptying, anastomotic leak, wound dehiscence and pneumonia. There was no difference between the two groups in the number of patients who required post-operative nasogastric tube placement (or replacement) [2 (4%) vs. 4 (8%), P= 0.678].


It may be safe to place a nasogastric tube post-operatively in a minority of patients after a pancreatic resection and spare the majority the discomfort associated with routine post-operative nasogastric suction.

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