Background: The significance of preserving the spleen has recently been shown. However, there are few reports of spleen-preserving distal pancreatectomy for lesions of the body and tail of the pancreas, and this procedure is not generally performed. The aim of this study was to clarify the technique and indications for spleen-preserving distal pancreatectomy with conservation of the splenic artery and vein for benign lesions of the distal pancreas.
Methods: Four patients (two each with an endocrine tumor and a cystic lesion) underwent the procedure. We also performed the spleen-preserving Puestow's procedure with removal of the tail of the pancreas in a 22-year-old male patient with familial chronic pancreatitis. An important technique is to remove the splenic vein from the pancreas from the body of the pancreas toward the spleen and to remove the splenic artery from the pancreas in the other direction. The splenic vein is identified behind the pancreas and within the thin connective tissue membrane, which is cut longitudinally above the splenic vein. It is important to remove the splenic vein from the pancreas from the body of the pancreas toward the spleen, because it is very difficult to remove it in the other direction. There are many branches from the splenic vein on both sides; these branches should be carefully ligated and cut. The pancreas is removed from the splenic artery from the spleen toward the head of the pancreas. This procedure is much easier than removal of the pancreas from the vein.
Results: The postoperative course was uneventful in four of the five patients. A pancreatic fistula remained in one patient for several weeks. The mean and standard deviation of the operative blood loss, the duration of the operation, and the postoperative hospital stay in the four uneventful cases, excluding the one in which Puestow's procedure was performed, were 600 +/- 479 ml, 290 +/- 48 minutes, and 40 +/- 21 days, respectively. No severe complications occurred in any of the five patients.
Conclusions: Spleen-preserving distal pancreatectomy with conservation of the splenic artery and vein is easy and safe and should be performed for benign lesions of the distal pancreas.