Background: Minimization of blood loss during pancreatoduodenectomy requires careful surgical technique and specific preventative measures. Therefore, red blood cell (RBC) transfusions and operative time are potential surgical quality indicators. The aim of the present study was to compare peri-operative RBC transfusion and operative time with 30-day morbidity/mortality after pancreatoduodenectomy. Methods: All pancreatoduodenectomies (2005 to 2008) were identified using the American College of Surgeons-National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP). RBC transfusions and operative time were correlated with 30-day morbidity/mortality. Results: Pancreatoduodenectomy was completed in 4817 patients. RBC transfusions were given to 1559 (32%) patients (1-35 units). Overall morbidity and mortality rates were 37% and 3.0%, respectively. Overall 30-day morbidity increased in a stepwise manner with the number of RBC transfusions (R = 0.69, P< 0.01). Although RBC transfusions and operative times were not statistically linked (P = 0.87), longer operative times were linearly associated with increased 30-day morbidity (R = 0.79, P< 0.001) and mortality (R = 0.65, P< 0.01). Patients who were not transfused also displayed less morbidity (33%) and mortality (1.9%) (P< 0.05). Discussion: Peri-operative RBC transfusion after pancreatoduodenectomy is linearly associated with 30-day morbidity. Longer operative time also correlates with increased morbidity and mortality. Therefore, blood transfusions and prolonged operative time should be considered quality indicators for pancreatoduodenectomy.
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