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The results of conservative operative management (involving no pancreatic resection) for 13 patients presenting with trauma to the pancreatic head over a period of 10 years were reviewed. Seven patients with injury of the pancreatic head without duodenal or ductal involvement made an uneventful recovery after simple drainage. The average hospital stay was 6.7 days. The remaining six patients with either duodenal (four patients) and/or ductal involvement (five patients) developed 22 major complications. One of these patients died of multiple organ failure, and the rest had an average hospital stay of 43 days. Injury of the vena cava was noted in five patients, but was not significantly associated with additional morbidity or mortality.
Although simple drainage of pancreatic head injuries is associated with a low mortality, there is an unacceptably high incidence of complications if either the duodenum or pancreatic duct is involved. The authors recommend that simple drainage be restricted to patients in whom neither of these structures is injured.
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Accepted: February 1, 1991
© 1991 Published by Elsevier Inc.