Background: Laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy (LP) is an emerging modality for managing benign and premalignant neoplasms of the pancreatic body and tail. The efficacy of LP has been examined in single and multi-institutional retrospective reviews but not compared prospectively to open distal pancreatectomy (ODP). Methods: We maintain a prospectively accruing database tracking peri-operative clinical parameters for all patients presenting to our tertiary care facility for treatment of pancreatic disease. We queried this database for patients undergoing LP or ODP between January 2003 and May 2008. Preoperative, operative, and postoperative characteristics were compared using standard statistical methods. Results: One-hundred twelve patients underwent distal pancreatectomy. Eighty-five underwent SDP. Twenty-eight LPs were attempted and 27 completed laparoscopically. One LP was converted to an open procedure because of bleeding and was excluded from study. In comparison to ODP, patients undergoing LP had statistically similar pre-operative demographics, disease comorbidities, tumor size, length of operation, rates of postoperative mortality, postoperative morbidity, and pancreatic fistula. Patients undergoing LP were less likely to have ductal adenocarcinoma and had fewer lymph nodes harvested in their resection but had a significantly shorter postoperative length of stay and significantly lower estimated blood loss than those undergoing ODP. Conclusion: Laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy is a safe, effective modality for managing premalignant neoplasms of the pancreatic body and tail, providing a morbidity rate comparable to that for ODP and substantially shorter length of stay. Laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy fails to provide a lymphadenectomy comparable to ODP. This may limit the applicability of LP to the treatment of pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas