Objective: The authors define the role of palliative pancreaticoduodenectomy in patients with pancreatic carcinoma. Background: Decreases in perioperative morbidity and modality and improved long term survival associated with pancreaticoduodenectomy for patients with pancreatic carcinoma have clearly established a role for this operation when performed with curative intent. However, most surgeons remain hesitant to perform pancreaticoduodenectomy unless surgical margins are widely clear, choosing rather to perform palliative biliary and gastric bypass. Methods: A single- institution retrospective review was performed comparing the outcome of 64 consecutive patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy for pancreatic carcinoma with gross or microscopic evidence of adenocarcinoma at the surgical resection margins, and 62 consecutive patients found to be unresectable at the time of laparotomy because of local invasion without evidence of metastatic disease (stage III). Combined biliary and gastric bypass were performed in 87% of patients not resected. Results: The two groups were similar with respect to age, gender, race, and presenting symptoms. The hospital modality rate was identical in both groups (1.6%). Fifty-eight percent of patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy had an uncomplicated postoperative course compared with 68% of patients undergoing palliative bypass (not significant). The length of postoperative hospital stay after pancreaticoduodenectomy was 18.4 days, which was significantly longer (p < 005) than for patients undergoing palliative bypass (150 days). The overall actuarial survival (Kaplan-Meier) was improved significantly in patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy (p < 0.02). Postoperative chemotherapy and radiation therapy improved survival in both groups. Conclusions: Pancreaticoduodenectomy can be performed with a similar perioperative morbidity and modality and only a minimal increase in hospital stay when compared with traditional surgical palliation. Pancreaticoduodenectomy with postoperative chemotherapy and radiation therapy is associated with improved long-term survival when compared with patients treated with surgical bypass. These data support the role of palliative pancreaticoduodenectomy in patients with pancreatic carcinoma and with local residual disease.
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