To trace the evolution of pancreaticoduodenectomy from the decade of the 1960s through the first decade of the new Millenium, through the experience of one surgeon doing 1000 consecutive operations.
A regional resection of the head of the pancreas was first performed successfully by Kausch in 1909. The operation was popularized by Whipple in 1935, who reported 3 pancreaticoduodenectomies. Because of a hospital mortality of approximately 25%, the operation was performed infrequently until the 1980s. From the 1980s on, experience with this complex alimentary tract operation increased, and high-volume centers developed. This resulted in a significant drop in hospital mortality and allowed institutions and individuals to gain large experiences.
Between March 1969 and May 2003, 1000 consecutive pancreaticoduodenectomies were performed by a single surgeon. A retrospective review of a prospectively maintained database was performed to determine the management and outcome of these patients, as well as to document the evolution of this operative procedure over 5 decades.
The median operative time decreased significantly over the decades, being 8.8 hours in the 1970s and 5.5 hours during the 2000s. Postoperative length of stay dropped from a median of 17 days in the 1980s to 9 days in the 2000s. There were only 10 postoperative/hospital deaths, for a mortality of 1%. A total of 405 patients underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy for adenocarcinoma of the head of the pancreas. Overall 5-year survival was 18%; for the lymph node-negative patients, it was 32%; and for node-negative, margin-negative patients, it was 41%.
Pancreaticoduodenectomy has become a commonly performed operation in many tertiary care centers. Operative time, blood loss, and length of stay have dropped substantially. The operation has become safe, with a low hospital mortality. It has become an effective operation for pancreatic cancer in those patients in whom their tumor is margin negative and node negative.
A total of 1000 consecutive pancreaticoduodenectomies were performed by one surgeon from 1969 to 2003. The evolution of the diagnosis and management of patients undergoing this operation over the 5 decades is documented. There were 10 deaths for a hospital mortality of 1%.
From the Department of Surgery, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD.
Reprints: John L. Cameron, MD, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 N. Wolfe Street, Blalock 679, Baltimore, MD 21287. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.