Background Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is an aggressive disease. Surgical resection with negative margins (R0) offers the only opportunity for cure. Patients who have advanced disease that limits the chance for R0 surgical resection may undergo margin positive (MP) pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD), palliative surgical bypass (PB), celiac plexus neurolysis alone (PX), or neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy in anticipation of future resection. Objective The aim of this study was to determine if there is a difference in the perioperative outcomes and survival patterns between patients who undergo MP PD and those who undergo PB for locally advanced disease in the treatment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Methods We reviewed our pancreatic surgery database (January 2005-December 2007) to identify all patients who underwent exploration with curative intent of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma of the head/neck/uncinate process of the pancreas. Four groups of patients were identified, R0 PD, MP PD, PB, and PX. Results We identified 126 patients who underwent PD, PB, or PX. Fifty-six patients underwent R0 PD, 37 patients underwent MP PD, 24 patients underwent a PB procedure, and nine patients underwent PX. In the PB group, 58% underwent gastrojejunostomy (GJ) plus hepaticojejunostomy (HJ), 38% underwent GJ alone, and 4% underwent HJ alone. Of these PB patients, 25% had locally advanced disease and 75% had metastatic disease. All nine patients in the PX group had metastatic disease. The mean age, gender distribution, and preoperative comorbidities were similar between the groups. For the MP PD group, the distribution of positive margins on permanent section was 57% retroperitoneal soft tissue, 19% with more than one positive margin, 11% pancreatic neck, and 8% bile duct. The perioperative complication rates for the respective groups were R0 36%, MP 49%, PB 33%, and PX 22%. The 30-day perioperative mortality rate for the entire cohort was 2%, with all three of these deaths being in the R0 group. The median follow-up for the entire cohort was 14.4 months. Median survival for the respective groups was R0 27.2 months, MP 15.6 months, PB 6.5 months, and PX 5.4 months. Conclusions Margin positive pancreaticoduodenectomy in highly selected patients can be performed safely, with low perioperative morbidity and mortality. Further investigation to determine the role of adjuvant treatment and longer-term follow-up are required to assess the durability of survival outcomes for patients undergoing MP PD resection.
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