Distal pancreatectomy has not been well examined in the modern era to guide management for pancreatitis. We evaluated this heterogeneous group and the preoperative factors associated with clinically relevant postoperative pancreatic fistula (CR-POPF).
Patients undergoing distal pancreatectomy at a single academic institution from August 2012 to January 2020 were evaluated. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were conducted between preoperative factors and CR-POPF.
One hundred and thirty patients underwent distal pancreatectomy. Indication for operative management included chronic pancreatitis and/or pseudotumor in 24.6% (n = 32), disconnected left pancreatic remnant in 31.5% (n = 41), chronic distal pseudocyst in 20.8% (n = 27), and distal necrosis in 13.8% (n = 18). Significant complications (Clavien-Dindo grade ≥ III) were seen in 34% of patients. After surgery, 34.2% developed diabetes, 40% had persistent opioid use, and 22.3% had CR-POPF. In multivariate analysis, male sex was significantly associated with CR-POPF (odds ratio 3.1, P = 0.037), and having a preoperative, therapeutic endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography was protective (odds ratio 0.28, P = 0.020).
Distal pancreatectomy is undertaken in pancreatitis with high morbidity. Female sex and preoperative, therapeutic endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography were significant protective factors for CR-POPF. The natural history of this approach is relevant for those with distal pancreatitis failing medical management.

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