Background: It is unclear whether routine postoperative admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) can improve outcomes for patients undergoing elective pancreatic surgery. Aim of the study was to determine preoperative and intraoperative predictors of unplanned ICU access in patients undergoing pancreatectomy treated within an established enhanced recovery pathway (ERP) and compare outcomes between direct and late ICU admission. Methods: A retrospective observational study was conducted on adult patients who underwent pancreatic resection (2015-2019) within an ERP. Patients with preoperatively planned ICU admission were excluded from the study. Multiple multivariate logistic regression models were constructed to verify the association of preoperative and intraoperative variables with study outcomes. Results: The study included 1486 consecutive patients (cancer diagnosis 60%, pancreaticoduodenectomy 60%; laparoscopic approach 20%; vascular resection 9%). Sixty-six (4.4%) patients had an unplanned ICU admission. Direct admission occurred in 22 (33%) patients and late ICU admission in 44 (67%) patients. Mortality was significantly lower in direct admission group (n = 3, 14%) compared to late admission (n = 25, 57%; p > 0.001). A comprehensive model including preoperative and intraoperative variables identified ASA score ≥ 3 (OR 5.59, p value < 0.001), history of hypertension (OR 2.29, p = 0.029), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (OR 3.05, p = 0.026), proximal pancreatic resection (OR 2.79, p value 0.046), multivisceral resection (OR 8.86, p value < 0.001), high intraoperative blood loss (OR 1.01 per ml, p < 0.001), and increased serum lactate at the end of surgery (OR 1.25, p = 0.017) as independent factors associated with ICU admission. Area under the ROC curve was 0.891. Conclusion: Patient comorbidities, surgical complexity, and lactic acidosis at the end of surgery were associated with unplanned postoperative ICU admission. Late ICU admission had very high mortality rates compared to direct admission. Our findings suggest that patients with a combination of preoperative and intraoperative risk factors could benefit from upfront postoperative ICU admission to potentially improve postoperative outcomes.
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