The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of conversion during minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy (MIDP) for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) on outcome by a propensity-matched comparison with open distal pancreatectomy (ODP).
MIDP is associated with faster recovery as compared with ODP. The high conversion rate (15%–25%) in patients with PDAC, however, is worrisome and may negatively influence outcome.
A post hoc analysis of a retrospective cohort including distal pancreatectomies for PDAC from 34 centers in 11 countries. Patients requiring conversion were matched, using propensity scores, to ODP procedures (1:2 ratio). Indications for conversion were classified as elective conversions (eg, vascular involvement) or emergency conversions (eg, bleeding).
Among 1212 distal pancreatectomies for PDAC, 345 patients underwent MIDP, with 68 (19.7%) conversions, mostly elective (n = 46, 67.6%). Vascular resection (other than splenic vessels) was required in 19.1% of the converted procedures. After matching (61 MIDP-converted vs 122 ODP), conversion did not affect R-status, recurrence of cancer, nor overall survival. However, emergency conversion was associated with increased overall morbidity (61.9% vs 31.1%, P= 0.007) and a trend to worse oncological outcome compared with ODP. Elective conversion was associated with comparable overall morbidity.
Elective conversion in MIDP for PDAC was associated with comparable short-term and oncological outcomes in comparison with ODP. However, emergency conversions were associated with worse both short- and long-term outcomes, and should be prevented by careful patient selection, awareness of surgeons’ learning curve, and consideration of early conversion when unexpected intraoperative findings are encountered.