The role of abdominal drainage in pancreatic resection - A multicenter validation study for early drain removal

Pancreatology. 2019 Sep;19(6):888-896. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2019.07.041. Epub 2019 Jul 27.


Background: Abdominal drainage and the timing of drain removal in patients undergoing pancreatic resection are under debate. Early drain removal after pancreatic resection has been reported to be safe with a low risk for clinical relevant postoperative pancreatic fistula (CR-POPF) when drain amylase on POD1 is < 5000U/L. The aim of this study was to validate this algorithm in a large national cohort.

Methods: Patients registered in the Dutch Pancreatic Cancer Audit (2014-2016) who underwent pancreatoduodenectomy, distal pancreatectomy or enucleation were analysed. Data on post-operative drain amylase levels, drain removal, postoperative pancreatic fistulae were collected. Univariate and multivariate analysis using a logistic regression model were performed. The primary outcome measure was grade B/C pancreatic fistula (CR-POPF).

Results: Among 1402 included patients, 433 patients with a drain fluid amylase level of <5000U/L on POD1, 7% developed a CR-POPF. For patients with an amylase level >5000U/L the CR-POPF rate was 28%. When using a cut-off point of 2000U/L or 1000U/L during POD1-3, the CR-POPF rates were 6% and 5% respectively. For patients with an amylase level of >2000U/L and >1000UL during POD 1-3 the CR-POPF rates were 26% and 22% respectively (n = 223). Drain removal on POD4 or thereafter was associated with more complications (p = 0.004). Drain amylase level was shown to be the most statistically significant predicting factor for CR-POPF (Wald = 49.7; p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Our data support early drain removal after pancreatic resection. However, a cut-off of 5000U/L drain amylase on POD1 was associated with a relatively high CR-POPF rate of 7%. A cut-off point of 1000U/L during POD1-3 resulted in 5% CR-POPF and might be a safer alternative.

Keywords: Drain; Fistula; PPPD; Pancreas; Whipple.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Amylases / analysis
  • Device Removal / statistics & numerical data
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Pancreas / surgery*
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy
  • Reference Values
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Amylases