Minimally Invasive Versus Open Techniques
Despite advances in laparoscopic and robotic approaches, the vast majority of distal pancreatectomies continue to be performed via an open approach. Recent retrospective data have demonstrated that minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy is associated with decreased blood loss and shorter hospital stays than open pancreatectomy. A large recent study utilizing the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database suggested, first, that the minimally invasive approach is becoming more widely utilized, increasing from 2.4 to 7.3 % over a study period from 1998 to 2009. Second, that study reported that the minimally invasive approach was associated with decreased length of stay as well as decreased incidence of infectious complications, bleeding complications, and blood transfusions. This population-based study echoes conclusions drawn by a large multi-institutional study performed several years previously. Drawing on a combined patient sample of 667 patients, with 24 % initially attempted laparoscopically, the authors were able to demonstrate lower overall complication rate, decreased blood loss, and shorter hospital stays among patients undergoing laparoscopic approach via a multivariate analysis.
Notably, there was no significant difference in the pancreatic leak rate between the open and laparoscopic approaches, although there was a nonsignificant trend favoring the laparoscopic approach. More recently, the robotic approach has generated significant interest as a technique for performing distal pancreatectomy. Retrospective analysis has suggested that the robotic approach is well suited for pancreatectomy. Fistula rates, however, remain a concern. A retrospective review of patients undergoing robotic pancreatic operations included 83 patients who underwent distal pancreatectomy. About 27 % were identified as having a ISPGF type A pancreatic leak; 12 and 4.8 % were identified as having a grade B or C leak, respectively.
Identifying Risk Factors
For pancreaticoduodenectomy (PTD) , a fistula risk score has been recently developed that has been shown to be highly predictive of POPF. This score assigns points based on gland texture, gland pathology, duct diameter, and intraoperative blood loss. In general, high blood loss, soft gland texture, and smaller duct diameter confer increased risk of POPF, whereas pancreatic adenocarcinoma and pancreatitis as the indication for PTD confer protection for the development of pancreatic fistula versus other diagnoses. Also of note, higher fistula risk scores correlated with greater incidence of clinically relevant (ISGPF grade B or C) fistula. The adaptation of this risk score to patients undergoing distal pancreatectomy is yet to be validated; however, at least one published study indicates that this scoring system may have limitations in the setting of distal pancreatectomy. In that study, risk factors for pancreatic fistula after stapled gland transection in patients undergoing distal pancreatectomy were examined, and in a multivariate analysis, only the presence of diabetes and the use of a 4.1-mm staple cartridge were associated with increased risk of pancreatic fistula formation.