The AGA recently published a Clinical Practice Update reviewing the best available evidence on pancreatic necrosis, regardless of cause. The update provides 15 best practice advice points that include the need for multidisciplinary care coordination and referral to a tertiary-care center as appropriate. The update describes supportive care, avoidance of prophylactic antibiotics, and optimization of nutrition. In addition, there is an included algorithm for the management of pancreatic necrosis requiring debridement. Debridement within the early acute phase of pancreatitis (within the first 2–4 weeks) should be avoided if possible secondary to increased morbidity and mortality. Intervention in the late phase (> 2–4 weeks) is indicated for patients with infected necrosis or persistent organ dysfunction and failure to thrive. Multiple approaches are available for the management of infected necrosis, including but not limited to percutaneous, endoscopic, or laparoscopic transgastric, or open debridement. In addition, a combination approach using percutaneous drainage followed by videoscopic retroperitoneal debridement or step-up approach can also be used. Since the publication of a multicenter RCT (PANTER) in 2010, the step-up approach for necrotizing pancreatitis has been increasingly used.
The step-up approach or video-assisted retroperitoneal debridement (VARD) is a minimally invasive technique that begins with percutaneous drain placement for necrotizing pancreatitis followed by a minimally invasive retroperitoneal necrosectomy. Patients who underwent the step-up approach versus open necrosectomy had less multiple-organ failure, incisional hernias, and newonset diabetes, but no difference in mortality. The 2020 AGA Clinical Practice Update on the management of pancreatic necrosis suggests that best practice is that ‘‘minimally invasive operative approaches to the debridement of acute necrotizing pancreatitis are preferred to open surgical necrosectomy when possible, given lower morbidity’’. However, the update also notes that open necrosectomy still has a role in the modern management of acute necrotizing pancreatitis, particularly for cases whereby less invasive techniques are not feasible.