Background The objectives of the present study are to determine the long-term changes in glucose tolerance function after pancreaticoduodenectomy and to compare the effects of pancreaticojejunostomy (PJ) and pancreaticogastrostomy (PG). Patients and methods The present study consisted of 51 patients who received a pancreaticoduodenectomy for tumors of the pancreatic head area and survived more than 7 postoperative years without tumor recurrence. According to the type of pancreatic anastomosis, they were classified into 2 groups of 25 PJ patients and 26 PG patients. Changes in the patterns of a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGGT) (normal, impaired glucose tolerance [IGT], and diabetic [DM] patterns) and the need for beginning diabetic treatment (oral hypoglycemic agents or insulin) were compared between groups. Results Within 3 months after surgery, 14 (56%) patients in the PJ group had normal OGTT patterns, 8 (32%), IGT patterns, and 3 (25%), DM patterns. In the PG group, the patterns of OGTT were similar with 16 (62%) normal patterns, 6 (23%) IGT patterns, and 4 (15%) DM patterns. During the first 7 postoperative years, the 2 groups showed similar results: (1) none of the patients with normal patterns developed functional decline in glucose tolerance; (2) a high percentage of patients with initial IGT or DM patterns developed worsening glucose intolerance (7 [64%] of 11 PJ patients vs 7 [70%] of 10 PG patients); (3) the onset of functional decline in glucose tolerance occurred predominantly within the first 3 postoperative years; and (4) no specific causative event prior to the subsequent functional decline was detected. Conclusion The decline of glucose tolerance after pancreaticoduodenectomy seems to be associated with a low reserve of endocrine function rather than anastomotic procedures or their related complications. Regardless of the types of pancreatic anastomosis, a close follow-up of glucose tolerance function is recommended during the first 3 postoperative years, especially among IGT or DM patients.
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