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Management and Spectrum of Complications in Patients Undergoing Surgical Debridement for Pancreatic Necrosis

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Patients who undergo pancreatic necrosectomy frequently develop complications and often have high mortality rates. These patients are best cared for at specialized centers to minimize morbidity, manage complex complications, and reduce mortality. We present a review of our experience and describe the spectrum of complications encountered in managing of these difficult patients. A registry of patients undergoing pancreatic necrosectomy during a 7-year period was analyzed for preoperative clinical scoring systems (Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation [APACHE] II and APACHE III scores), patient characteristics related to necrosectomy, and morbidity and mortality. Twenty-nine patients underwent necrosectomy. Indications for surgery were consistent with those previously described. There were 27 complications in 22 patients. Sixteen complications were early (less than 3 weeks after surgery) and 14 were late. The mortality rate was 14 per cent. All deaths were in patients transferred from outside institutions, some after extended time periods. Temporary percutaneous catheter drainage of abscesses before transfer and definitive surgery appeared to reduce mortality in transferred patients. There was a statistically significant correlation between mean maximal preoperative APACHE III score, but not APACHE II score, and the number of postoperative intensive care unit days (rho = 0.52, P = 0.004). We describe our experience managing patients with infected pancreatic necrosis that required operative necrosectomy. We found that more severely ill patients (higher APACHE III scores) had longer intensive care unit stays, but the initial severity of their illness did not increase mortality. If patients with infected pancreatic necrosis are referred to specialized centers, preoperative pretransfer percutaneous drainage may serve to temporarily control sepsis.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: From the Department of Surgery, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York; and the 2: From the Department of Surgery, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York; and the, Veterans Administration, New York Harbor Healthcare System, New York, New York

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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