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Post-operative pancreatic fistula following splenectomy with or without distal pancreatectomy at cytoreductive surgery in advanced ovarian cancer
  1. Nicolò Bizzarri1,2,
  2. Porfyrios Korompelis2,
  3. Valentina Ghirardi1,2,
  4. Rachel Louise O'Donnell2,3,4,
  5. Stuart Rundle2 and
  6. Raj Naik2
  1. 1UOC Ginecologia Oncologica, Dipartimento per la salute della Donna e del Bambino e della Salute Pubblica, Policlinico Agostino Gemelli IRCCS, Rome, Italy
  2. 2Northern Gynaecological Oncology Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, United Kingdom
  3. 3Newcastle Centre for Gynaecological Surgery, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  4. 4Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Newcastle University Centre for Cancer, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicolò Bizzarri, UOC Ginecologia Oncologica, Dipartimento per la salute della Donna e del Bambino e della Salute Pubblica, Policlinico Agostino Gemelli IRCCS, 00168 Roma, Italy; nicolo.bizzarri{at}


Objective Splenectomy with or without distal pancreatectomy may be necessary at time of cytoreductive surgery to achieve complete cytoreduction in advanced ovarian cancer. However, these procedures have been associated with peri-operative morbidity. The aims of this study were to determine the incidence of distal pancreatectomy among patients undergoing splenectomy during cytoreductive surgery for advanced ovarian cancer and to determine the incidence, management, treatment, and prognosis of patients with post-operative pancreatic fistula.

Methods Retrospective cohort study of all consecutive patients with FIGO stage IIIC-IVB ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer who underwent splenectomy with or without distal pancreatectomy, during primary, interval, or secondary cytoreductive surgery between January 2007 and December 2017. All histologic subtypes were included; patients with borderline ovarian tumor and those undergoing emergency surgery were excluded from analysis. Univariate analyses for survival were generated by Kaplan–Meier survival curves and log-rank (Mantel–Cox) tests for statistical significance. Patients who underwent surgery for recurrence were excluded from survival analysis. Inter-group statistics were performed using Student’s t-test for continuous variables, and chi-square test and Fisher’s exact test for categorical variables.

Results A total of 156/804 (19.4%) women underwent splenectomy, and of these 22 (14.1%) patients had distal pancreatectomy. Of patients who underwent splenectomy only, 2/134 (1.5%) developed grade B post-operative pancreatic fistula and 6/22 (27.3%) patients who underwent distal pancreatectomy developed grade B and C post-operative pancreatic fistula. Five (83.3%) of six of these patients were symptomatic. Distal pancreatectomy patients had a higher risk of developing post-operative pancreatic fistula when compared with patients who underwent splenectomy only (63.7% vs 9.7%, p=0.0001). Median length of hospital stay was longer in patients with post-operative pancreatic fistula: 16.5 (range 7–38) days compared with 10 (range 7–15) days (p=0.019). There was no progression-free survival (p=0.42) and disease-specific survival (p=0.33) difference between patients undergoing splenectomy with or without distal pancreatectomy.

Conclusion Clinically relevant post-operative pancreatic fistula is a relatively frequent complication (27.3%) following distal pancreatectomy and it is a possible complication after splenectomy only (1.5%).

  • ovarian cancer
  • surgical oncology
  • spleen
  • digestive system fistula

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  • Presented at Preliminary results of this study were presented at the 20th Biennial International Meeting of the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO 2017), Vienna, Austria, November 4-7, 2017.

  • Contributors NB: conceptualization, data curation, methodology, writing original draft. PK: data curation, methodology, conceptualization. VG: data curation, methodology, review and editing, RLOD: data curation, methodology, review and editing, SR: data curation, methodology, review and editing. RN: conceptualization, methodology, review and editing, writing original draft.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.