Conservation of the spleen with distal pancreatectomy

Arch Surg. 1988 May;123(5):550-3. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.1988.01400290032004.


This report describes a rapid, easy, and safe means of saving the spleen while resecting or fully mobilizing the pancreatic tail. The pancreas is separated from the spleen by dividing the splenic artery and vein distal to the tip of the pancreas. The spleen survives on the short gastric vessels, which are carefully preserved. The technique has been applied successfully in 22 of 25 consecutive patients with chronic pancreatitis (n = 13), acute pancreatitis and pancreatic necrosis (n = 3), cystic neoplasm of the pancreas (n = 4), islet cell tumor (n = 2), and ductal adenocarcinoma (n = 3). The spleen could not be saved in three patients because of splenic hilar involvement by tumor or scar. Normal postoperative blood cell counts and spleen scans proved splenic viability and function. There was only one complication, a late splenic abscess that developed in a spleen of twice-normal size. It is concluded that in most instances the distal pancreas can be mobilized for resection or inspection without the need for splenectomy. Splenomegaly may be a contraindication because the short-vessel gastric blood supply may be inadequate to nourish the increased tissue mass. The technique is applicable to the treatment of pancreatic tumors, trauma, and pancreatitis.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Methods
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatectomy / methods*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Pancreatitis / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Spleen / blood supply
  • Spleen / diagnostic imaging
  • Spleen / surgery*
  • Splenic Artery / surgery
  • Splenic Vein / surgery