Obesity increases surgical morbidity and mortality in open pancreaticoduodenectomy (OPD). Its influence on robotic pancreaticoduodenectomy (RPD) remains uncertain. This study aimed to investigate the impact of body mass index (BMI) on the early experience of RPD. Between June 2015 and April 2020, 68 consecutive RPDs were performed at the National Cheng Kung University Hospital. The patients were categorized as normal-weight (BMI < 23 kg/m2), overweight (BMI = 23–27.5 kg/m2), and obese (BMI > 27.5 kg/m2) according to the definition of obesity in Asian people from the World Health Organization expert consultation. Preoperative characteristics, operative details, and postoperative outcomes were prospectively collected. The cumulative sum was used to assess the learning curves. The average age of the patients was 64.8 ± 11.7 years with an average BMI of 24.6 ± 3.7 kg/m2 (23 normal-weight, 29 overweight, and 16 obese patients). Eighteen patients were required to overcome the learning curve. The overall complication rate was 51.5%, and the major complication rate (Clavien grade ≥ III) was 19.1%. The normal-weight group showed the most favorable outcomes. The blood loss, major complication rate, peripancreatic fluid collection rate, and conversion rate were higher in the obese group than in the non-obese group. There were no differences in the operative time, clinically relevant postoperative pancreatic fistula, postoperative hemorrhage, delayed gastric emptying, bile leak, wound infection, reoperation, hospital stay, and readmission rate between the obese and non-obese groups. Multivariate analysis showed obesity as the only independent factor for major complications (OR: 5.983, CI: 1.394–25.682, p = 0.001), indicating that obesity should be considered as a surgical risk factor during the implementation of RPD.
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