Comparison of resectable and unresectable periampullary carcinomas

Y. M. Shyr*, C. H. Su, H. C. Wang, S. S. Lo, W. Y. Lui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Two hundred and fifty-eight patients with pathologically proved periampullary carcinomas who underwent surgical treatment between the years 1965 and 1992 were evaluated. Comparison was carried out between the resectable and unresectable groups. Carcinoma of the pancreatic head occurred in less than one-half (47 percent) of the patients, and only 23 percent were resectable. In contrast, carcinoma of the ampulla of Vater had a similar rate of occurrence, but a much higher resectable rate (86 percent). Thus, carcinoma of the pancreatic head was the minor group (19 percent). In the resectable patients we studied. The main clinical presentations and durations of symptoms before diagnosis did not differ in the resectable and unresectable groups, so it was impossible to predict the resectability by symptoms. Incidences of diabetes mellitus and diarrhea increased twofold in the unresectable group. Preoperative biopsy was difficult to perform for those with carcinoma of the pancreatic head. Comparing pancreatoduodenectomy and palliative operation, pancreatoduodenectomy resulted in a higher complication rate (43 versus 13 percent), a higher surgical mortality rate (17 versus 9 percent) and a longer hospitalization period (31 versus 20 days), but there was no statistical difference in the median survival time between the resectable and unresectable carcinomas of the pancreatic head (seven and one-half versus five months). Most of the patients (81 percent in the resectable group and 70 percent in the unresectable group) we studied died of cachexia with tumor recurrence. Although the advantage of pancreatoduodenectomy for resectable carcinoma of the pancreatic head was questioned, we still recommend this procedure for all periampullary carcinomas to avoid depriving the occasional patients with pancreatic carcinomas of long term survival and forfeiting the chance of cure for some misdiagnosed patients with other more favorable periampullary carcinomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-378
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994


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