Background: The survival of patients who underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy with or without en bloc resection of the superior mesenteric-portal vein (SMPV) confluence for adenocarcinoma of the pancreatic head was compared. Methods: To be considered for surgery, patients were required to fulfil the following computed tomography criteria for resectability: (1) absence of extrapancreatic disease, (2) no evidence of tumour extension to the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) or coeliac axis, and (3) a patent SMPV confluence. Tumour adherence to the superior mesenteric vein (SMV) or SMPV confluence was assessed at operation and en bloc venous resection was performed when necessary to achieve complete tumour extirpation. Results: Seventy-five consecutive patients underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy, 44 without venous resection and 31 with en bloc resection of the SMPV confluence. There were no perioperative deaths in either group; late (more than 6 months) occlusion of the reconstructed SMPV confluence contributed to the death of two patients. Median survival in the 31 patients who required venous resection at the time of pancreaticoduodenectomy was 22 months, and that for the 44 control patients was 20 months (P = 0.25). Conclusion: Patients with adenocarcinoma of the pancreatic head who require venous resection during pancreaticoduodenectomy for isolated tumour extension to the SMV or SMPV confluence (in the absence of tumour extension to the SMA or coeliac axis) have a duration of survival no different from that of patients who undergo standard pancreaticoduodenectomy. These data suggest that venous involvement is a function of tumour location rather than an indicator of aggressive tumour biology.
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