The first priority in pancreatic trauma is to control hemorrhage and to contain bacterial contamination. The other main management priority is the identification of specific pancreatic injury with special attention to the integrity of the ductal system.
Ductal injury is the single most important factor in late morbidity and mortality. Most pancreatic injuries can be managed with closed external drainage. Débridement of devitalized pancreatic tissue adjacent to the fracture site is essential in severe pancreatic injuries. It is important, however, to preserve at least 20% to 50% of functional pancreatic tissue whenever possible. Resection should be accompanied by drainage and duodenal diversion for concurrent pancreatic head and duodenal injuries. If there is only a contusion or laceration without evidence of major duct disruption, suture closure and external drainage usually suffice. Severe injuries of the pancreatic head can be managed according to their appearance on intraoperative pancreatography. If the duct is intact, wide-bore drainage should suffice. If duct injury is demonstrated, a Roux-en-Y diversion may be considered.
However, increased complication rates of up to 60% have been reported in patients with high-grade injuries treated with pancreaticojejunostomy, suggesting that distal pancreatectomy, when feasible, is a superior operative treatment for these patients.