Background: In pancreatic cancer, extensive tumor involvement of the mesenteric venous system poses formidable challenges to operative resection. Such involvement can result from cavernous collateral veins leading to increased intraoperative blood loss or long-segment vascular defects of not only just the superior mesenteric vein but also even jejunal/ileal branches. Strategies to facilitate margin-free resection and safe vascular reconstruction in pancreatic surgery are important, particularly because systemic control of the tumor is improving with multi-agent chemotherapy regimens. Methods: We describe a systematic, multidisciplinary assessment for patients with pancreatic cancer that involves the superior mesenteric vein, as well as the preoperative planning of those undergoing operative resection. In addition, detailed descriptions of operative approaches and technical strategies, which evolved with increasing experience at a high-volume center, are presented. Results: For the preoperative evaluation of tumor-free, vascular locations for potential reconstruction and collateralization, computed tomographic imaging with high-resolution of vascular structures (used with 3-dimensional or cinematic rendering) allows a precise calibration of radiographic data with intraoperative findings. From an operative perspective, we identified 5 potential strategies to consider for resection: collateral preservation, mesoportal bypass (preresection), mesoportal interposition graft (postresection), mesocaval shunt, and various combinations of these strategies. Many of these techniques use interposition grafts, making it essential to assess autologous veins (preferred conduit for reconstruction) or to prepare cryopreserved vascular allografts (an alternative conduit, which must be thawed and should be matched for size and blood type). Conclusion: Herein we share operative strategies to overcome involvement of the superior mesenteric vein in pancreatic cancer. Improvements in preoperative planning and operative technique can address common barriers to resection with curative intent.
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