Background: Pancreatic resection is a major abdominal operation with 50% risk of postoperative complications. A common complication is pancreatic fistula, which may have severe clinical consequences such as postoperative bleeding, organ failure and death. The objective of this study is to investigate whether implementation of an algorithm for early detection and minimally invasive management of pancreatic fistula may improve outcomes after pancreatic resection.
Methods: This is a nationwide stepped-wedge, cluster-randomized, superiority trial, designed in adherence to the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guidelines. During a period of 22 months, all Dutch centers performing pancreatic surgery will cross over in a randomized order from current practice to best practice according to the algorithm. This evidence-based and consensus-based algorithm will provide daily multilevel advice on the management of patients after pancreatic resection (i.e. indication for abdominal imaging, antibiotic treatment, percutaneous drainage and removal of abdominal drains). The algorithm is designed to aid early detection and minimally invasive step-up management of postoperative pancreatic fistula. Outcomes of current practice will be compared with outcomes after implementation of the algorithm. The primary outcome is a composite of major complications (i.e. post-pancreatectomy bleeding, new-onset organ failure and death) and will be measured in a sample size of at least 1600 patients undergoing pancreatic resection. Secondary endpoints include the individual components of the primary endpoint and other clinical outcomes, healthcare resource utilization and costs analysis. Follow up will be up to 90 days after pancreatic resection.
Discussion: It is hypothesized that a structured nationwide implementation of a dedicated algorithm for early detection and minimally invasive step-up management of postoperative pancreatic fistula will reduce the risk of major complications and death after pancreatic resection, as compared to current practice.
Trial registration: Netherlands Trial Register: NL 6671. Registered on 16 December 2017.