Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Evaluation of survival in patients after pancreatic head resection for ductal adenocarcinoma

Marius Distler1*, Felix Rückert2, Maximilian Hunger1, Stephan Kersting1, Christian Pilarsky1, Hans-Detlev Saeger1 and Robert Grützmann1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technical University Dresden, Fetscherstrasse 74, Dresden 01307, Germany

2 Surgical Department, University Hospital Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany

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BMC Surgery 2013, 13:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-13-12

Published: 22 April 2013



Surgery remains the only curative option for the treatment of pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The goal of this study was to investigate the clinical outcome and prognostic factors in patients after resection for ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreatic head.


The data from 195 patients who underwent pancreatic head resection for PDAC between 1993 and 2011 in our center were retrospectively analyzed. The prognostic factors for survival after operation were evaluated using multivariate analysis.


The head resection surgeries included 69.7% pylorus-preserving pancreatoduodenectomies (PPPD) and 30.3% standard Kausch-Whipple pancreatoduodenectomies (Whipple). The overall mortality after pancreatoduodenectomy (PD) was 4.1%, and the overall morbidity was 42%. The actuarial 3- and 5-year survival rates were 31.5% (95% CI, 25.04%-39.6%) and 11.86% (95% CI, 7.38%-19.0%), respectively. Univariate analyses demonstrated that elevated CEA (p = 0.002) and elevated CA 19–9 (p = 0.026) levels, tumor grade (p = 0.001) and hard texture of the pancreatic gland (p = 0.017) were significant predictors of a poor survival. However, only CEA >3 ng/ml (p < 0.005) and tumor grade 3 (p = 0.027) were validated as significant predictors of survival in multivariate analysis.


Our results suggest that tumor marker levels and tumor grade are significant predictors of poor survival for patients with pancreatic head cancer. Furthermore, hard texture of the pancreatic gland appears to be associated with poor survival.

Pancreatic cancer; Tumor marker; Surgery; Whipple procedure; Pylorus-preserving pancreatoduodenectomy (PPPD)