Background: There are many well-described potential gastrointestinal (GI) side effects of pancreatic resection that can cause patients to suffer from chronic malabsorption, diarrhea, and persistent nausea. These GI symptoms can affect postoperative recovery, initiation of adjuvant therapy, and overall quality of life (QOL). The purpose of this study is to quantify the incidence of post-procedural complications and identify patients at higher risk for experiencing GI dysfunction after pancreatectomy.
Methods: A retrospective review of patients who underwent pancreatic resection at a single institution between January 2014 and December 2019 was performed. Demographics, operative factors, and postoperative gastrointestinal symptomatology and treatments were obtained by chart review. Significance tests were performed to compare GI dysfunction between patient subgroups.
Results: A total of 545 patients underwent pancreatic resection; within the cohort 451 patients (83%) underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) and the most common indication was pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Two-thirds of patients (67%) reported gastrointestinal symptoms persisting beyond hospitalization. Only 105 patients (20%) were referred to gastroenterology for evaluation with 30 patients (5.5%) receiving a formal diagnosis. Patients who underwent PD were more likely to report GI symptoms and patients who identified as Caucasian were more likely to be referred to gastroenterology for evaluation.
Conclusions: Gastrointestinal dysfunction after pancreatic resection occurs frequently yet only a small percentage of patients are referred for formal testing and diagnosis. There also appears to be a racial difference in referral patterns. Patients would benefit if earlier attention was dedicated to the diagnosis and corresponding treatment for postoperative digestive health disorders to optimize treatment planning and QOL.
Keywords: DGE; Delayed gastric emptying; EPI; Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency; Gastrointestinal dysfunction; Gastrointestinal symptoms; Pancreatic resection; Pancreaticoduodenectomy; SIBO; Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth; Whipple.
© 2022. The Author(s).