Postoperative hyperamylasemia (POH) and acute pancreatitis after pancreatoduodenectomy (POAP): State of the art and systematic review



      Postoperative hyperamylasemia is a frequent finding after pancreatoduodenectomy, but its incidence and clinical implications have not yet been analyzed systematically. The aim of this review is to reappraise the concept of postoperative hyperamylasemia with postoperative acute pancreatitis, including its definition, interpretation, and correlation.


      Online databases were used to search all available relevant literature published through June 2019. The following search terms were used: “pancreaticoduodenectomy,” “amylase,” and “pancreatitis.” Surgical series reporting data on postoperative hyperamylasemia or postoperative acute pancreatitis were selected and screened.


      Among 379 screened studies, 39 papers were included and comprised data from a total of 9,220 patients. Postoperative hyperamylasemia was rarely defined in most of these series, and serum amylase values were measured at different cutoff levels and reported on different postoperative days. The actual levels of serum amylase activity and the representative cutoff levels required to reach a diagnosis of postoperative acute pancreatitis were markedly greater on the first postoperative days and tended to decrease over time. Most studies analyzing postoperative hyperamylasemia focused on its correlation with postoperative pancreatic fistula and other postoperative morbidities. The incidence of postoperative acute pancreatitis varied markedly between studies, with its definition completely lacking in 40% of the analyzed papers. A soft pancreatic parenchyma, a small pancreatic duct, and pathology differing from cancer or chronic pancreatitis were all predisposing factors to the development of postoperative hyperamylasemia.


      Postoperative hyperamylasemia has been proposed as the biochemical expression of pancreatic parenchymal injury related to localized ischemia and inflammation of the pancreatic stump. Such phenomena, analogous to those associated with acute pancreatitis, could perhaps be renamed as postoperative acute pancreatitis from a clinical standpoint. Patients with postoperative acute pancreatitis experienced an increased rate of all postoperative complications, particularly postoperative pancreatic fistula. Taken together, the discrepancies among previous studies of postoperative hyperamylasemia and postoperative acute pancreatitis outlined in the present review may provide a basis for stronger evidence necessary for the development of universally accepted definitions for postoperative hyperamylasemia and postoperative acute pancreatitis.
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