Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 1007–1015 | Cite as

Do Drains Contribute to Pancreatic Fistulae? Analysis of over 5000 Pancreatectomy Patients

  • R. El Khoury
  • C. Kabir
  • V.K. Maker
  • M Banulescu
  • M. Wasserman
  • A.V. Maker
Original Article



Conflicting evidence exists from randomized controlled trials supporting both increased complications/fistulae and improved outcomes with drain placement after pancreatectomy. The objective was to determine drain practice patterns in the USA, and to identify if drain placement was associated with fistula formation.


Demographic, perioperative, and patient outcome data were captured from the most recent annual NSQIP pancreatic demonstration project database, including components of the fistula risk score. Significant variables in univariate analysis were entered into adjusted logistic regression models.


Of 5013 pancreatectomy patients, 4343 (87%) underwent drain placement and 18% of patients experienced a pancreatic fistula. When controlled for other factors, drain placement was associated with ducts < 3 mm, soft glands, and blood transfusion within 72 h of surgery. Age, obesity, neoadjuvant radiation, preoperative INR level, and malignant histology lost significance in the adjusted model. Drained patients experienced higher readmission rates (17 vs. 14%; p < 0.05) and increased (20 vs. 8%; p < 0.01) pancreatic fistulae. Fistula was associated with obesity, no neoadjuvant chemotherapy, drain placement, < 3 mm duct diameter, soft gland, and longer operative times. Drain placement remained independently associated with fistula after both distal pancreatectomy (OR = 2.84 (1.70, 4.75); p < 0.01) and pancreatoduodenectomy (OR = 2.29 (1.28, 4.11); p < 0.01).


Despite randomized controlled clinical trial data supporting no drain placement, drains are currently placed in the vast majority (87%) of pancreatectomy patients from > 100 institutions in the USA, particularly those with soft glands, small ducts, and perioperative blood transfusions. When these factors are controlled for, drain placement remains independently associated with fistulae after both distal and proximal pancreatectomy.


Pancreatectomy Drain Fistula Predictors Risks 


Funding Information

Dr. Ajay Maker is supported by the NIH/NCI K08CA190855 grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and the hospitals participating in the ACS NSQIP are the source of the data used herein; they have not verified and are not responsible for the statistical validity of the data analysis or the conclusions derived by the authors.


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. El Khoury
    • 1
    • 2
  • C. Kabir
    • 2
  • V.K. Maker
    • 1
    • 2
  • M Banulescu
    • 2
  • M. Wasserman
    • 2
  • A.V. Maker
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical OncologyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Surgery and ResearchCreticos Cancer Center and the Advocate Health Research InstituteChicagoUSA

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