Quality-of-life after total pancreatectomy: Is it really that bad on long-term follow-up?

Brian J. Billings, John D. Christein, William S. Harmsen, Jeffrey R. Harrington, Suresh T. Chari, Florencia G. Que, Michael B. Farnell, David M. Nagorney, Michael G. Sarr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


While selected pancreatic diseases may be best treated by total pancreatectomy (TP), the anticipated sequelae of pancreatic insufficiency make TP an undesirable alternative. Our aim was to determine if patients undergoing TP have a worse quality of life (QoL) than age- and gender-matched controls and poor long-term glycemic control. Ninety-nine patients undergoing TP from 1985 through 2002 were identified. The 34 survivors with no recurrent malignancy were surveyed with the Short Form-36 (SF-36), the Audit of Diabetes Dependent QoL (ADD QoL), the European Organization for Research and Treatment in Cancer Pancreas 26 (EORTC PAN 26), and our institutional questionnaire. Operative morbidity and mortality were 32% and 5%, respectively. Three late postoperative deaths (3%) were attributed to hypoglycemia. Of the 34 surviving patients, 27 (79%) agreed to participate at a mean of 7.5 years postoperatively. Seven patients had required 12 hospitalizations for poor glycemic control. Per the SF-36, two domains (role physical and general health) were decreased compared with an age- and gender-matched national population (P < .05). The ADD QoL demonstrated an overall decrease in QoL related specifically to the diabetes mellitus (P < .01), but comparison with insulin-dependent diabetics from other causes showed no significant difference in QoL. The EORTC PAN 26 instrument also showed measurable effects on QoL. Total pancreatectomy can be performed safely. QoL after TP is decreased compared with age- and gender-matched controls but not with diabetes from other causes; however, the changes are not overwhelming. TP should remain a viable option but in selected patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1059-1067
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Quality of life
  • Total pancreatectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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