Jehovah's Witness (JW) patients undergoing liver or pancreas surgery represent a challenging ethical and medical problem, with few reports about their optimal management.
To analyze the perioperative outcomes of JW patients submitted to hepatic or pancreatic resection, clinicopathologic data of JW patients who underwent surgical exploration for a hepatic or pancreatic tumor between March 1996 and July 2011 were reviewed retrospectively.
Clinicopathologic data of 27 patients, 28 explorations, and 25 resections were included. Median age was 58 years (range 28 to 75 years) and 20 patients were female. Three patients were explored and deemed unresectable. Fifteen hepatic resections (9 segmentectomy or bi/trisegmentectomy, 6 hemi-hepatectomy or extended hepatectomy) and 10 pancreatic resections (6 pancreaticoduodenectomy, 4 distal pancreatectomy/splenectomy) were reviewed; additional organs were resected in 5 patients (2 gastrectomy, 1 colectomy, 1 nephrectomy, 1 adrenalectomy, 1 salpingoophorectomy). Median estimated blood loss for the hepatectomies was 400 mL (range 100 to 1,500 mL) and for the pancreatectomies was 400 mL (range 250 to 1,800 mL). Six patients received preoperative erythropoietin; hemodilution was used in 9 patients and 3 had Cell Saver–generated autotransfusions. Median preoperative hemoglobin was 12.5 g/dL (range 9.5 to 14.4 g/dL) and median postoperative hemoglobin was 10.4 g/dL (range 9 to 12.4 g/dL). In-hospital mortality was 0%. One patient required re-exploration for decreasing hemoglobin and refusal of transfusion; a total of 11 complications developed in 7 other patients (5 wound infection/breakdown, 1 urinary tract infection, 1 ileus, 1 nausea/vomiting, 1 lymphedema, 1 ascites, and 1 ARDS). Median hospital stay was 7 days (range 4 to 23 days).
Pancreatic and liver resection can be done safely in selected JW patients who refuse blood products by using a variety of blood-conservation techniques to help spare red cell mass.