Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 768–772 | Cite as

Not Just for Trauma Patients: Damage Control Laparotomy in Pancreatic Surgery

  • Katherine MorganEmail author
  • Deanna Mansker
  • David B. Adams
2009 SSAT Poster Presentation



Damage control laparotomy (DCL) has been a major advance in modern trauma care. The principles of damage control which include truncation of operation to correct acidosis, hypothermia, and coagulopathy with subsequent planned definitive repair are applicable in managing patients undergoing abdominal operations. In order to define indications, technique, and outcome, we undertook a retrospective review and analysis of pancreatic surgery patients in whom DCL was utilized.


In a cohort of 835 patients who underwent elective pancreatic operations at the Medical University of South Carolina from 2001 to 2007, eight patients were identified who required DCL. Under Institutional Review Board approval, records were reviewed to define intraoperative blood loss, acidosis, hypothermia, coagulopathy, operative techniques, timing of definitive operation, and hospital outcome.


There were five men and three women with a mean age of 51 years. The diagnosis was chronic pancreatitis in seven patients and cancer in one. The index operation was pancreatoduodenectomy in four patients, distal pancreatectomy in three, and total pancreatectomy in one. In four patients undergoing elective pancreatic resection intraoperative portal vein hemorrhage initiated damage control laparotomy. Four patients had damage control utilized at reoperation for abdominal sepsis (two) and hemorrhage (two). DCL techniques included external tube drainage (eight), abdominal packing (seven), staple closure of open bowel (four), and rapid abdominal closure (four). Operative blood loss ranged from 300 to 12,000 cc. Operative transfusions ranged from 0 to 44 U of packed red cells. Intraoperative INR was greater than 1.5 in four patients, pH ranged from 7.08 to 7.45, and temperature ranged from 34.8 to 38.8°C. Laparotomy for pack removal and intestinal reconstruction was undertaken 1 to 7 days after DCL. Length of hospital stay ranged from 7 to 80 days. Hospital mortality was zero.


Patients with exsanguinating hemorrhage and severe sepsis related to pancreatic surgery can be successfully managed with principles of DCL. Truncation of operation with abdominal packing, bowel closure, external drainage of bile and pancreatic ducts, and rapid abdominal closure with planned subsequent completion laparotomy should be considered in pancreatic operations when patients risk intraoperative acidosis, hypothermia, and coagulopathy due to sepsis or hemorrhage.


Pancreas Surgery Complications Damage control 


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Morgan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Deanna Mansker
    • 1
  • David B. Adams
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA

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