OBJECTIVE: The authors reviewed the hemorrhagic complications of patients who underwent pancreatoduodenectomies between 1972 and 1996. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Although recent studies have demonstrated a reduction in the mortality of pancreatic resection, morbidity is still high. Bleeding is a close second to anastomotic dehiscence in the list of dangerous postoperative complications. METHODS: The medical records from a prospective data bank of 559 patients who underwent pancreatic resection at the Surgical Clinic of Mannheim (Heidelberg University) were analyzed in regard to postoperative hemorrhagic complications. Differences were evaluated with the Fisher exact test. RESULTS: The overall mortality rate was 2.7%. Postoperative bleeding occurred in 42 patients (7.5%), with 6 episodes ending fatally (14.3%). Erosive bleeding after pancreatic leak was noted in 11 patients (26.2%), 4 of whom died. Gastrointestinal hemorrhage occurred in 22 patients, and operative field hemorrhage was present in 20 cases. Relaparotomy was necessary in 29 patients. An angiography with interventional embolization for recurrent bleeding was performed in three patients. Seven hemorrhages (4.6%) occurred after pancreatectomy for chronic pancreatitis and 35 episodes of bleeding (8.6%) were encountered after pancreatectomy for malignant disease. Obstructive jaundice was present in 359 patients (63.9%). In this group of patients, 32 (8.9%) postoperative hemorrhages occurred. Preoperative biliary drainage did not influence the type and mortality rate of postoperative hemorrhage in jaundiced patients. CONCLUSION: The prevention of these bleeding complications depends in the first place on meticulous hemostatic technique. Preoperative biliary drainage does not lower postoperative bleeding complications in jaundiced patients. Continuous, close observation of the patient in the postoperative period, so as to detect complications in time, and expeditious hemostasis are paramount. Images Figure 1. Figure 2.