Background: Despite recent advances, surgical complications remain an important source of morbidity after pancreas transplantation (PTX). Several previous studies have delineated the surgical complications after PTX with systemic-bladder (S-B) drainage, but data are limited regarding the incidence and outcomes of surgical complications after PTX with portal-enteric (P-E) drainage. Study Design: We retrospectively studied surgical complications after 83 vascularized PTXs with P-E drainage in 79 patients (65 simultaneous kidney-PTXs [SKPT] and 18 solitary PTXs [SPT], 8 pancreas alone and 10 pancreas after kidney transplantation). Twelve (15%) were retransplants. A surgical complication was defined as the need for repeat laparotomy within the first 3 months after PTX. Results: A total of 53 surgical complications requiring repeat laparotomy occurred in 31 patients (37%). The incidence of surgical complications in SKPT and SPT was 38% and 33%, respectively. The most common indications for repeat laparotomy were: vascular thrombosis in 13% (SKPT 14% and SPT 11%), intraabdominal infection in 10% (SKPT 12% and SPT 0%), intraabdominal bleeding in 8% (SKPT 8% and SPT 11%), and duodenal allograft leak in 4% (SKPT 3% and SPT 6%). Patient survival rates at 1 and 3 years with versus without surgical complications were 84% and 80% versus 94% and 86%, respectively (p = NS). Pancreas graft survival rates at 1 and 3 years with versus without surgical complications were 48% and 44% versus 89% and 76%, respectively (p < 0.0001). The incidence of surgical complications was 45% in the first 42 P-E transplantations performed between 1990 and 1995, compared with 29% in the next 41 transplantations performed during 1996 and 1997 (p = NS). The mean number of repeat laparotomies per patient decreased from 1.2 in the former group to 0.5 in the latter group (p = NS). The incidence rates of vascular thrombosis, intraabdominal infection, and duodenal leak in the former and latter groups were 17% versus 10%, 12% versus 7%, and 2% versus 5%, respectively. Conclusions: Surgical complications after PTX are common, and their incidence and outcomes with P-E drainage are similar to those with S-B drainage. The complication rate does not vary according to the type of transplant (SKPT versus SPT). Increasing experience with P-E drainage results in a decreased incidence of surgical complications.
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