Objective: The treatment of pancreatic necrosis at a tertiary referral center was reviewed to effect better patient outcome.
Summary background data: Pancreatic necrosis is a devastating disease that leads to death in 10% to 50% of cases. Infected necrosis is particularly deadly because 80% of deaths from necrosis are due to infection or its complications. Therapeutic strategies center on aggressive support of organ systems and prevention and treatment of infectious complications.
Methods: Records of all patients who underwent pancreatic necrosectomy from 1990 to 1996 at Emory University Hospital were reviewed. Patients with infected necrosis were debrided as soon as the diagnosis was made. Reoperation for completion necrosectomy with ultimate closure over lavage catheters was performed as necessary.
Results: Of the 244 patients admitted with acute pancreatitis in the study period, 50 underwent pancreatic debridement. The mean age was 52 years, and 74% of patients were transferred from other institutions. Eighty-four percent of patients had infected necrosis, and all patients underwent sequential debridement with eventual closure over drains. Organ failure occurred in 72% of cases, and the overall mortality rate was 12%. The mean length of stay was 54 days.
Conclusions: The management of pancreatic necrosis demands the allocation of extensive resources. An aggressive operative strategy of multiple debridements with ultimate closure over drains can lead to a low mortality rate in patients with this complex disease, but the determination of when to explore patients with sterile necrosis remains difficult.