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Pancreatic surgical complications—the case for prophylaxis
  1. C Gouillat1,
  2. J-F Gigot2
  1. 1Department of Chirurgie, Hô Dieu, 1 Place de l'Hôf.pital, 69288 Lyon Cedex 02, FranceJ-F Gigot,
  2. 2Chirugie Hépato-bilio-pancréatique, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Avenue Hippocrate 10/1400, 1200 Brussels, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to:
    C Gouillat, Department of Chirurgie, Hô Dieu, 1 Place de l'Hôf.pital, 69288 Lyon, Cedex 02, France;


Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple's procedure) represents a considerable surgical challenge. Postoperative complications are common and typically related to leakage of pancreatic exocrine secretions following anastomosis failure. Pancreatic proteases and lipase leaking from the organ remnant attack the surrounding tissue, potentially leading to severe inflammation, tissue necrosis, and fistula formation. In addition, the soft consistency of the normal pancreas can lead to difficulties in manipulating the organ and reduce the integrity of sutures. Pancreatic fistula is the most serious postoperative complication and especially common following resectional surgery for malignant disease. Through prophylactic inhibition of digestive secretions, it should be possible to reduce postoperative morbidity after pancreatic surgery. One such inhibitor is somatostatin-14, an endogenous peptide hormone with pronounced effects on secretion of pancreatic enzymes and hormones, gastrointestinal secretions, and pancreatic blood flow, all of which may decrease the risk of postoperative complications. A limited number of randomised controlled trials have investigated prophylactic administration of somatostatin-14 and the synthetic somatostatin analogue octreotide in reducing complications following pancreatic surgery. While the majority of studies with octreotide demonstrated a significant reduction in the overall complication rate, the benefits appeared less marked in relation to events specifically related to pancreatic secretion. However, preliminary results from a limited number of trials with somatostatin-14, administered as a continuous intravenous infusion, suggest that prophylactic pharmacotherapy produces a significant decrease in fistula formation and secretion related events after pancreaticoduodenectomy. Due to these promising data, further investigation of the role of somatostatin-14 prophylaxis in pancreatic surgery is warranted in large well controlled trials.

  • somatostatin-14
  • octreotide
  • prophylaxis
  • pancreaticoduodenectomy
  • pancreatic surgery
  • CT, computed tomography
  • SSTR, somatostatin receptor

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