Surgical management of complications associated with percutaneous and/or endoscopic management of pseudocyst of the pancreas

William H. Nealon, Eric Walser, David B. Adams, Charles J. Yeo, Thomas R. Gadacz, Stephen B. Vogel, Kenneth W. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Objective: To study the magnitude of complications associated with the nonoperative management of peripancreatic fluid collections and pseudocysts and to assess the surgical management of these complications. These are compared with complications associated with operative management. Summary Background Data: Pancreatic pseudocysts and peripancreatic fluid collections associated with acute pancreatitis have been managed with success using nonoperative techniques for more than a decade. When successful, these techniques have clear advantages compared with operative management. There has, however, been little focus on the magnitude and outcomes after complications sustained by nonoperative management. Our report focuses on these complications and pseudocysts and on the surgical management. We have been struck by the high percentage of patients who sustain significant and at times life-threatening complications related to the nonoperative management of fluid collections. We further define an association between the main pancreatic ductal anatomy and the likelihood of major complications after nonoperative management. Methods: Between 1992 and 2003, all patients admitted to our service with peripancreatic fluid collections or pseudocysts were monitored. We evaluated complications patients managed with percutaneous (PD) or endoscopic drainage (E). Data were collected regarding patient characteristics, need for intensive care unit (ICU) stays, hemorrhage, hypotension, renal failure, and ventilator support. We further focused on the duration of fistula drainage from patients who have had a percutaneous drainage, and we assessed the necessity for urgent or emergent operation. By protocol, all patients had pancreatic ductal anatomy evaluated by means of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) or magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP). Patients with complications of E and PD were compared with 100 consecutive patients who underwent operative management of pseudocyst and fluid collections as their sole mode of intervention. Results: A total of 79 patients with complications of PD, E, or both were studied. There were 41 males and 38 females in the group of patients who sustained complications (mean age 49 years). Sixty-six of the 79 subsequently required operation to manage their peripancreatic fluid collection, 37 urgent or emergent. The mean elapsed time from diagnosis to nonoperative intervention was 18.1 days. This group of 79 patients had mean 3.1 ± 0.7 hospitalization (range, 1-7) and length-of-stay 42.7 ± 4.1 days. ICU stays were required in 36 of the 79 (46%). A defined episode of clinical sepsis was identified in 72 of 79 (91%) and was by far the most common complication. Hemorrhage requiring transfusion was identified in 16 of the 79 (20%), clinical shock 51 of the 79 (65%), renal failure 16 of the 79 (20%), ventilator support for longer than 24 hours 19 of the 79 (24%). A persistent pancreatic fistula occurred in 66 of the 79 patients (84%); mean duration was 61.4 ± 9.6 days. Sixty-three of the 79 patients with complications of E or PD had ductal anatomy (ERCP/MRCP) which predicted failure because of significant disruption or stenosis of the main pancreatic duct. Among the 100 operated patients, 69 complications occurred in 6 of the 100 (6%). Operation was initiated electively a mean interval of 42.7 days after diagnosis of pseudocyst. Hemorrhage, hypotension, renal failure, sepsis, persistent fistula, or urgent operation all were not seen in the complications associated with operated patients. CT imaging obtained at least 6 months after intervention documented complete resolution after surgery alone in 91 and 9 with cystic structures less than 2 cm. In patients with operation after failed nonoperative therapy, 6 patients had persistent cystic lesions less than 2 cm in diameter. Conclusion: These data support the premise that a choice between operative and nonoperative management for peripancreatic fluid collections and pseudocysts should be made with careful assessment of the pancreatic ductal anatomy, with a clear recognition of the magnitude of complications which are likely to occur should non-operative measures be used in patients most likely to sustain complications. It is vital to recognize the magnitude and severity of complications of nonoperative measures as one chooses a modality. Ductal anatomy predicts patients who will have complications or failure of management of their peripancreatic fluid collection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)948-960
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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