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Open Access Research article

Chronic pancreatitis of the pancreatic remnant is an independent risk factor for pancreatic fistula after distal pancreatectomy

Marius Distler1*, Stephan Kersting1, Felix Rückert2, Peggy Kross1, Hans-Detlev Saeger1, Jürgen Weitz1 and Robert Grützmann1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, TU, Dresden, Germany

2 Department of Surgery, University Hospital Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany

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BMC Surgery 2014, 14:54  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-14-54

Published: 15 August 2014



There is an ongoing debate about the best closure technique after distal pancreatectomy (DP). The aim of the closure is to prevent the formation of a clinically relevant post-operative pancreatic fistula (POPF). Stapler technique seems to be equal compared with hand-sewn closure of the remnant. For both techniques, a fistula rate of approximately 30% has been reported.


We retrospectively analyzed our DPs between 01/2000 and 12/2010. In all cases, the pancreatic duct was over sewn with a separately stitched ligation of the pancreatic duct (5*0 PDS) followed by a single-stitched hand-sewn closure of the residual pancreatic gland. The POPF was classified according to the criteria of the International Study Group for Pancreatic Fistula (ISGPF). Univariate and multivariate analyses of potential risk factors for the formation of POPF were performed. Indications for operations included cystic tumors (n = 53), neuroendocrine tumors (n = 27), adenocarcinoma (n = 22), chronic pancreatitis (n = 9), metastasis (n = 6), and others (n = 7).


During the period, we performed 124 DPs (♀ = 74, ♂ = 50). The mean age was 57.5 years (18–82). The POPF rates according to the ISGPF criteria were: no fistula, 54.8% (n = 68); grade A, 24.2% (n = 30); grade B, 19.3% (n = 24); and grade C, 1.7% (n = 2). Therefore, in 21.0% (n = 26) of the cases, a clinically relevant pancreatic fistula occurred. The mean postoperative stay was significantly higher after grade B/C fistula (26.3 days) compared with no fistula/grade A fistula (13.7 days) (p < 0.05). The uni- and multivariate analyses showed chronic pancreatitis of the pancreatic remnant to be an independent risk factor for the development of POPF (p = 0.004 OR 7.09).


By using a standardized hand-sewn closure technique of the pancreatic remnant after DP with separately stitched ligation of the pancreatic duct, a comparably low fistula rate can be achieved. Signs of chronic pancreatitis of the pancreatic remnant may represent a risk factor for the development of a pancreatic fistula after DP and therefore an anastomosis of the remnant to the intestine should be considered.

Distal pancreatectomy; Pancreatic fistula; Chronic pancreatitis; Pancreas surgery