Background: Because of advances in knowledge over recent years there is reason to believe that surgical attitudes towards patients with chronic pancreatitis may have changed. Methods: Some 547 patients were treated surgically for chronic pancreatitis from 1971 to June 1998. Anastomoses were performed in 80 per cent (438 patients) and resections in 20 per cent (109 patients). Indications and type of operation were analysed, as were mortality and morbidity rates and long-term follow-up results, in patients undergoing resection both over the period as a whole and after dividing the series into two subperiods of 14 years. Results: In the second 14-year period, there was a significant reduction in the percentage of resections compared with anastomoses (28 per cent (69 of 244 patients) versus 13 per cent ( 40 of 303); P <0.0001), and a significant change in the type of resection with a substantial increase in resections of the head compared with those of the body and tail. Statistically significant reductions occurred in operating times, number of units of blood transfused (mean(s.d.) 4.7 (3.6) versus 1.2 (1.6) units; P = 0.0001) and mean hospital stay (18 versus 14 days for pylorus-preserving and 12 versus 8 days for left pancreatectomy with splenectomy; P <0.01); mortality and morbidity rates also tended to decrease, but not significantly. Conclusion: A different pattern has emerged over the years as regards both the type and number of resections performed.
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