Pancreatic injuries resulting from penetrating trauma: a multi-institution review

Am Surg. 1998 Sep;64(9):838-43; discussion 843-4.


Pancreatic injury from penetrating trauma continues to be a source of significant morbidity and mortality, with questions remaining regarding optimal treatment of injuries. Our goal was to evaluate current trends in the operative management of these injuries. Our patient population comprised all patients admitted to one of three Level I trauma centers over an 8-year period that had sustained penetrating pancreatic trauma. The study was a retrospective chart review. Sixty-two patients were identified. All had associated abdominal injuries, with the liver and stomach being the most commonly injured organs. There were 14 deaths (mortality 22.6%), 10 within the first 48 hours due to associated vascular injury. In the 52 patients surviving beyond 48 hours, there were 19 patients with injuries to the main pancreatic duct and 33 with parenchymal injuries only. Pancreatic resection was carried out for all patients with ductal injury except for one, who later required distal pancreatectomy for pseudocyst and pancreatic fistula. Significant pancreatic fistulae developed in five patients, three in patients treated by drainage and two in patients treated by resection. The incidence of fistula formation was significantly higher for drainage versus resection in the patients with ductal injuries. The incidences of other complications were not affected by type of pancreatic injury, associated injuries, or method of management. We conclude that the majority of deaths in patients with penetrating pancreatic trauma are due to associated organ or vascular injuries. Appropriate management of the pancreatic injury can reduce the long-term complications. These results support treating patients with suspected ductal injuries by appropriate resection. Drainage should probably be sufficient for most nonductal pancreatic injuries.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Abscess / etiology
  • Abdominal Abscess / surgery
  • Abdominal Injuries / surgery
  • Adult
  • Blood Vessels / injuries
  • Cause of Death
  • Drainage
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Liver / injuries
  • Male
  • Pancreas / injuries*
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreas / surgery
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Pancreatic Ducts / injuries
  • Pancreatic Ducts / surgery
  • Pancreatic Fistula / etiology
  • Pancreatic Fistula / surgery
  • Pancreatic Pseudocyst / etiology
  • Pancreatic Pseudocyst / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stomach / injuries
  • Survival Rate
  • Wounds, Penetrating / pathology
  • Wounds, Penetrating / surgery*