Background: Post-operative pancreatic fistula (POPF) is a common and potentially devastating complication of pancreas resection. Management of this complication is important to the pancreas surgeon.
Objective: The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether drain data accurately predicts clinically significant POPF.
Methods: A prospectively maintained database with daily drain amylase concentrations and output volumes from 177 consecutive pancreatic resections was analysed. Drain data, demographic and operative data were correlated with POPF (ISGPF Grade: A--clinically silent, B--clinically evident, C--severe) to determine predictive factors.
Results: Twenty-six (46.4%) out of 56 patients who underwent distal pancreatectomy and 52 (43.0%) out of 121 patients who underwent a Whipple procedure developed a POPF (Grade A-C). POPFs were classified as A (24, 42.9%) and C (2, 3.6%) after distal pancreatectomy whereas they were graded as A (35, 28.9%), B (15, 12.4%) and C (2, 1.7%) after Whipple procedures. Drain data analysis was limited to Whipple procedures because only two patients developed a clinically significant leak after distal pancreatectomy. The daily total drain output did not differ between patients with a clinical leak (Grades B/C) and patients without a clinical leak (no leak and Grade A) on post-operative day (POD) 1 to 7. Although the median amylase concentration was significantly higher in patients with a clinical leak on POD 1-6, there was no day that amylase concentration predicted a clinical leak better than simply classifying all patients as 'no leak' (maximum accuracy = 86.1% on POD 1, expected accuracy by chance = 85.6%, kappa = 10.2%).
Conclusion: Drain amylase data in the early post-operative period are not a sensitive or specific predictor of which patients will develop clinically significant POPF after pancreas resection.