The impact of splenectomy on outcomes after resection of pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Roderich E. Schwarz, Lawrence E. Harrison, Kevin C. Conlon, David S. Klimstra, Murray F. Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Background: Splenectomy at the time of resection of esophageal, gastric, or colon cancer has been correlated with inferior longterm survival. No such effect has yet been demonstrated for pancreatic cancer. Study Design: Patients undergoing resection of pancreatic adenocarcinoma with curative intent at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center between October 1983 and October 1995 were identified from a prospective clinical database. The impact of splenectomy on hospital stay and survival was calculated with univariate and multivariate nonparametric methods. Results: Of 332 patients undergoing pancreatectomy, 326 with confirmed local or regional disease only formed the study cohort. Of these, 37 underwent concomitant splenectomy (11.4%). Splenectomy was significantly correlated with distal or total pancreatectomy, primary location in tail or body, portal vein invasion or resection, a larger maximal tumor diameter, and an operative blood loss of greater than 2,000mL. Death or need for reoperation was not affected by splenectomy. Patients undergoing splenectomy had a higher median transfusion requirement (3 versus 1; p = 0.002). The median postoperative length of stay was 15 days regardless of splenectomy. At a median followup of 16.3 months (36.4 months for surviving patients), the median actuarial survival was 12.2 months with splenectomy versus 17.8 months without splenectomy (p < 0.005). On multivariate analysis, splenectomy emerged as an independent factor predictive of decreased postoperative survival (p = 0.02), in addition to pathologic lymph node status (p = 0.0002), tumor diameter (p = 0.0004), and tumor differentiation (p = 0.007). Tumor location within the pancreas and the type of pancreatectomy were not independent prognostic factors influencing survival. Conclusions: After pancreatectomy for pancreatic cancer, splenectomy has no significant measurable impact on postoperative recovery, but has a negative influence on longterm survival independent of disease- related factors. Unless required because of tumor proximity or invasion, splenectomy should be avoided in the operative treatment of exocrine pancreatic cancer at any location.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-521
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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