OBJECTIVE: The authors evaluated the morbidity, mortality, and quality of life after pancreatic debridement for necrosis and compared these values to those for quality of life after elective medical and surgical management for chronic pancreatitis. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Quality of life after pancreatic debridement for necrosis has received little attention. Although quality of life after other pancreatic surgery has been evaluated and is though to be good, management of patients with pancreatic necrosis can be labor intensive and require extraordinary resources. Therefore, further evaluation of the quality of life achieved after treatment is appropriate. METHODS: Forty patients (group 1) underwent operative debridement for necrosis between 1986 and 1994. Medical records of these patients were reviewed for morbidity, mortality, and in-hospital costs. Follow-up of quality of life was assessed by the Short Form-36 Health Survey. Patients in group 2 (n = 89) underwent medical management of chronic pancreatitis. Group 3 included 47 patients who underwent elective operations for ductal abnormalities. The Short Form-36 Health Surveys were administered to all three groups and compared statistically. RESULTS: Mortality and morbidity from pancreatic debridement was 18% and 77%, respectively. Quality-of-life evaluations in groups 1 through 3 and age-matched controls were statistically similar. CONCLUSIONS: Pancreatic debridement for necrosis requires intense application of resources and is associated with a high mortality and morbidity. Long-term follow-up shows good quality of life for patients who survive this morbid disease. This study supports the continued aggressive approach to the management of pancreatic necrosis, given that long-term outcome about quality of life is good.