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Background

There are concerns about the extent of impaired endocrine and exocrine pancreatic function and poor quality of life (QoL) after pancreatectomy, but there is little information from large prospective follow-up studies.

Methods

Consecutive patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy or distal pancreatectomy between 2007 and 2011 were included. Relative bodyweight (RBW), triceps skinfold thickness (TSFT), serum protein, albumin, transferrin, fasting blood glucose, postprandial 2-h glucose (PP2), glycosylated haemoglobin A1c and stool elastase measurements, and European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30 questionnaires were collected serially for 1 year.

Results

Some 136 patients undergoing pancreatic resection completed the study. RBW and TSFT recovered to over 90 per cent of the preoperative value by 12 months, whereas transferrin, albumin and protein had returned to preoperative levels by 3 months. Diabetes mellitus, impaired fasting glucose or raised PP2 was present in 42 of 76 patients at 6 months and 36 of 76 at 12 months. Although steatorrhoea and diarrhoea had mainly resolved by 3 months, stool elastase level decreased after operation and showed no recovery. Nutritional status, pancreatic endocrine function and QoL returned to preoperative levels in 63 (46·3 per cent), 72 (52·9 per cent) and 77 (56·6 per cent) of 136 patients within 6 months of pancreatectomy. Multivariable analysis revealed that age 60 years or more, operation type, chronic pancreatitis and malignant disease had a significant impact on nutritional index, pancreatic function and QoL.

Conclusion

About half of all patients can expect recovery from pancreatectomy after 6 months, but those with risk factors need more careful follow-up and supportive management.