Transition from open to robotic distal pancreatectomy in a low volume pancreatic surgery country: a single Australian centre experience

ANZ J Surg. 2023 Jan;93(1-2):151-159. doi: 10.1111/ans.18199. Epub 2022 Dec 13.


Background: Advances in technology and techniques have allowed for robotic distal pancreatectomies to be readily performed in patients at high volume centres. This study describes the experience of a single surgeon during the learning curve and transition from open to robotic distal pancreatectomy in Australia, a traditionally low volume pancreatic surgery country.

Methods: All patients undergoing distal pancreatectomy at an Australian-based tertiary referral centre between 2010 and 2021 were reviewed retrospectively. Demographic, clinicopathologic and survival data were analysed to compare perioperative and oncological outcomes between patients who underwent open, laparoscopic and robotic distal pancreatectomies.

Results: A total of 178 distal pancreatectomies were identified for analysis during the study period. Ninety-one open distal pancreatectomies (ODP), 48 laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies (LDP), and 39 robotic distal pancreatectomies (RDP) were performed. Robotic distal pancreatectomy was non-inferior with respect to perioperative outcomes and yielded statistically non-significant advantages over LDP and ODP.

Conclusion: RDP is feasible and can be performed safely in well-selected patients during the learning phase at large pancreatic centres in a traditionally low-volume country like Australia. Referral to large pancreatic centres where access to the robotic platform and surgeon experience is not a barrier, and where a robust multidisciplinary team meeting can take place, remains pivotal in the introduction and transition toward the robotic approach for management of patients with pancreatic body or tail lesions.

Keywords: laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy; learning curve; minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy; robotic distal pancreatectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy* / methods
  • Length of Stay
  • Operative Time
  • Pancreatectomy / methods
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome