Background. Postoperative pancreatic fistula (POPF) is still regarded as a major complication. The incidence of POPF varies greatly in different reports, depending on the definition applied at each surgical center. Our aim was to agree upon an objective and internationally accepted definition to allow comparison of different surgical experiences. Methods. An international panel of pancreatic surgeons, working in well-known, high-volume centers, reviewed the literature on the topic and worked together to develop a simple, objective, reliable, and easy-to-apply definition of POPF, graded primarily on clinical impact. Results. A POPF represents a failure of healing/sealing of a pancreatic-enteric anastomosis or a parenchymal leak not directly related to an anastomosis. An all-inclusive definition is a drain output of any measurable volume of fluid on or after postoperative day 3 with an amylase content greater than 3 times the serum amylase activity. Three different grades of POPF (grades A, B, C) are defined according to the clinical impact on the patient's hospital course. Conclusions. The present definition and clinical grading of POPF should allow realistic comparisons of surgical experiences in the future when new techniques, new operations, or new pharmacologic agents that may impact surgical treatment of pancreatic disorders are addressed.
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