Background: Laparoscopic left pancreatectomy (LLP) is associated with favorable outcomes compared with open left pancreatectomy (OLP). However, it is unclear if the risk factors associated with operative morbidity differ between these two techniques. Guidelines for determining which patients should undergo OLP versus LLP do not exist. Methods: A multi-institutional analysis of OLP and LLP performed in 9 academic medical centers was undertaken. LLP cases were defined in an intent-to-treat manner. Perioperative variables were analyzed to identify factors associated with complications and pancreatic fistulae after OLP and LLP. In addition, complication and fistula rates for patients undergoing OLP and LLP were compared in matched cohorts to determine if one approach resulted in superior outcomes over the other. Results: Six hundred and ninety-three left pancreatectomy cases (439 OLP, 254 LLP) were analyzed. OLP and LLP cases were similar with respect to patient age and American Society of Anesthesiologists score. Body mass index (BMI) was higher in patients undergoing LLP. OLP was more often performed for adenocarcinoma and larger tumors, resulted in longer resected specimen lengths, and more commonly involved concomitant splenectomy. Estimated blood loss was higher and operative times were longer during OLP. On multivariate analysis, variables associated with major complications and clinically significant fistulae differed between OLP and LLP. Patients with body mass index ≤27, without adenocarcinoma, and with pancreatic specimen length ≤8.5 cm had significantly higher rates of significant fistulae after OLP than after LLP; in contrast, no preoperatively evaluable variables were associated with a higher likelihood of significant fistula after LLP versus OLP. Conclusions: Risk factors for complications and pancreatic fistulae after left pancreatectomy differ when open versus laparoscopic techniques are employed. Preoperative characteristics may identify cohorts of patients who will benefit more from LLP, and no patient cohorts had higher postoperative complication rates after LLP than OLP. These observations suggest that LLP may be the operative procedure of choice for most patients with left-sided pancreatic lesions; a more definitive prospective and randomized comparison may be warranted.
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