Complications after pancreaticoduodenectomy: the problem of current definitions

J Hepatobiliary Pancreat Surg. 2006;13(3):207-11. doi: 10.1007/s00534-005-1035-7.


Pancreaticoduodenectomy nowadays represents a complex procedure and a challenge for the surgeon. Even though mortality is reported to be below 5% for experienced surgeons, morbidity is still around 30%-50%, often leading to prolongation of hospital stay, demanding postoperative investigations and procedures, and outpatient monitoring of the patients with complications. In the literature there is no agreement on the definitions of postoperative complications following pancreaticoduodenectomy, leading to a wide range of complication rates in different specialist units, particularly regarding the source of every complication, postoperative pancreatic fistula, and others such as delayed gastric emptying. Some authors have demonstrated that applying different definitions in homogeneous, single-center series, the incidence of a complication varied with statistical significance, implying the impossibility of correctly comparing different experiences. It seems essential to organize a Consensus Meeting among expert surgeons to prepare world-wide accepted definitions. The aim of this article is to review the current controversial definitions and to suggest a new clinical-based approach to the problem of the feasibility and reliability of the definitions themselves.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Abscess / etiology
  • Biliary Fistula / etiology
  • Gastric Emptying
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Fistula / etiology
  • Jejunal Diseases / etiology
  • Liver Diseases / etiology
  • Pancreatic Fistula / etiology
  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy / adverse effects*
  • Postoperative Complications / classification*
  • Terminology as Topic*