Background: Advances in the nonoperative staging and palliation of periampullary carcinoma have dramatically changed the management of this disease. Currently, surgical palliation is used primarily for patients found to be unresectable at the time of laparotomy performed for the purpose of determining resectability. Study Design: A review of all patients undergoing operative management for periampullary adenocarcinoma at a single, high- volume institution was performed. The review focused on patients found to be unresectable who, therefore, underwent surgical palliation. Results: Between December 1991 and December 1997, 256 patients with unresectable periampullary adenocarcinoma were operatively palliated. During the same time period, 512 patients underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) for periampullary carcinoma. Sixty-eight percent of patients were unresectable secondary to liver metastases or peritoneal metastases, and 32% were deemed unresectable because of local vascular invasion. Of the 256 patients, 51% underwent double bypass (hepaticojejunostomy [HJ] and gastrojejunostomy [GJ]), 11% underwent HJ alone, 19% underwent GJ alone, and 19% did not undergo any form of bypass. Celiac block was performed in 75% of patients. Palliated patients were significantly younger, with a mean age of 64.0 years compared with 65.8 years in the resected group (p = 0.04). Gender and race distributions were similar in the 2 groups, with 57% of palliated patients and 55% of resected patients being men (p = NS) and 91% of patients in each group being Caucasian (p = NS). Palliative procedures were performed with a mortality rate of 3.1%, compared to 1.9% in those successfully resected (p = NS). Those undergoing operative palliation had a significantly lower incidence of postoperative complications when compared with those undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy (22% versus 35%, p<0.0001) and had significantly shorter lengths of stay (10.3 days versus 14.8 days, p < 0.0001). As expected, palliated patients had a significantly poorer prognosis, with 1-, 2- and 4-year survivals of 25%, 9%, and 6% (median 6.5 months), respectively, compared with 75%, 47%, and 24% in their resectable counterparts (median 21 months, p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Surgical palliation continues to play an important role in the management of periampullary carcinoma. In this high-volume center, 33% of patients undergoing operative management of this disease were unresectable. Surgical palliation can be accomplished with acceptable perioperative mortality (3.1%) and morbidity (22%), with excellent longterm results.
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