Microscopic margins and patterns of treatment failure in resected pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Jennifer L. Gnerlich, Samuel R. Luka, Anjali D. Deshpande, Bernard J. Dubray, Joshua S. Weir, Danielle H. Carpenter, Elizabeth M. Brunt, Steven M. Strasberg, William G. Hawkins, David C. Linehan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Objective: To correlate microscopic margin status with survival and local control in a large cohort of patients from a high-volume pancreatic cancer center. Design: Retrospective database review. A uniform procedure for margin analysis was used with 4-color inking (neck, portal vein groove, uncinate, and posterior pancreatic margin) by the surgeon in the operating room. Setting: A tertiary care hospital. Patients: We reviewed patients who underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy between September 1, 1997, and December 31, 2008, from a prospective, institutional database. Main Outcome Measures: Using Cox regression models, we identified pathologic characteristics associated with local recurrence (LR) after controlling for potential confounding variables. Overall and LR-free survival curves were generated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Results: Of 285 patients who underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy for pancreatic adenocarcinoma, 97 (34.0%) had 1 or more positive microscopic margins (uncinate, 16.5%; portal vein groove, 8.8%; neck, 7.7%; and posterior, 10.5%). A total of 198 patients (69.5%) recurred, with the first site of failure being LR only in 47 (23.7%), local plus distant recurrence in 42 (21.2%), and distant recurrence only in 109 (55.1%). Patients with LR only were significantly more likely to have lymph node involvement (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.25-5.63) or a positive posterior margin (adjusted hazard ratio, 4.27; 95% CI, 2.07-8.81). Patients with a positive posterior margin had significantly poorer LR-free survival with (P < .001) or without (P =.01) lymph node involvement. Conclusions: When systematically assessed, the incidence of positive microscopic margins is high. Positive posterior margins and lymph node involvement were each independently and significantly associated with LR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-760
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


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