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The intraportal site is the most common site for islet transplantation. Many other sites have been tried experimentally, including the spleen, which has successfully lead to insulin independence in a number of animal models. Nevertheless, there are no detailed reports of total pancreatectomy and splenic islet autotransplantation in humans. Five patients underwent total pancreatectomy and splenic islet autotransplantation for chronic pancreatitis. Four patients had a pylorus-preserving total pancreatectomy and one patient a duodenal-preserving pancreatectomy. In three cases islets were embolized into both the portal vein and spleen. Two patients received splenic islet transplants alone. Islets were transplanted by retrograde venous infusion via the short gastric veins (n = 3), splenic vein stump (n = 1), and the left gastroepiploic vein (n = 1). The total volumes of transplanted pancreatic digest in those receiving combined intraportal and splenic autografts (n = 3) were 15.8, 13.0, and 13.5 ml. The volumes in those receiving a splenic-alone autograft (n = 2) were 12.0 and 5 ml. The mean rise in portal pressure was 18 cm of water. Complications related to the splenic autograft included a wedge splenic infarct, an emergency splenectomy, and a portal vein thrombosis in one patient having a combined intraportal and splenic autograft. Two patients developed insulin independence, two patients were still insulin independent at 1-year follow-up, and all had normal HbA1c levels (mean 5.6, range 5.2-6.3). Splenic islet autotransplantation, after total pancreatectomy, does lead to insulin independence. However, in our experience the combined procedure has a high morbidity because of splenic infarction and venous thrombosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Transplantation

Publication Date





19 - 24