Several studies have demonstrated that the use of pancreatic duct stents following pancreaticoduodenectomy is associated with a lower risk of pancreatic fistula. However, to date, there is a lack of accord in the literature on whether the use of stents is beneficial and, if so, whether internal or external stenting is preferable.
To determine the efficacy of pancreatic stents in preventing pancreatic fistula after pancreaticoduodenectomy.
The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, ISI Web of Science and four major Chinese biomedical databases were searched up to February 2011. We also searched four major trials registers.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the use of stents (either internal or external) versus no stents, and comparing internal stents versus external stents following pancreaticoduodenectomy.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors extracted the data independently. The outcomes studied were incidence of pancreatic fistula, need for reoperation, length of hospital stay, overall complications, and in-hospital mortality. The results were shown as relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI).
A total of 656 patients were included in the systematic review. Overall, the use of stents (both external and internal) was not associated with a statistically significant change in any of the studied outcomes. In a subgroup analysis, it was found that the use of external, but not internal, stents is associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of pancreatic fistulae (RR 0.33; 95% CI 0.11 to 0.98, P = 0.04), the incidence of complications (RR 0.48; 95% CI 0.25 to 0.92, P = 0.03) and length of hospital stay (RR -0.57; 95% CI -0.94 to -0.21, P = 0.002). In RCTs on the use of internal versus external stents, no statistically significant difference was found in terms of any of the studied outcomes.
This systematic review suggests that the use of external stents following pancreaticoduodenectomy may be beneficial. However, only a limited number of RCTs with rather small sample sizes were available. Further RCTs on the use of stents after pancreaticoduodenectomy are warranted.