Background: The surgical strategy in patients with a pancreatic intraductal papillary mucinous tumour (IPMT) is still controversial. In this study the pathological findings in a series of patients were used to rationalize surgical choice. Methods: Fifty-one patients with IPMT were observed between 1988 and 1998 and treated by pancreatic resection. Factors evaluated included symptoms, tumour site, type of operation, histological findings and resection margins, tumour stage, follow-up and survival. Results: Pancreaticoduodenectomy was the most frequent surgical treatment (33 patients; 65 per cent), followed by left pancreatectomy (ten), total pancreatectomy (five) and middle pancreatectomy (three). Histological assessment revealed the tumour to be an adenoma in 13 patients (25 per cent), a borderline tumour in ten (20 per cent) and a carcinoma in 28 (55 per cent), 19 of which were invasive. Mild to moderate dysplasia was present at the resection margin in 20 specimens (41 per cent), and carcinoma in one. Local recurrence was observed in four patients (8 per cent), all of whom underwent a second resection. The 3-year actuarial survival rate for benign and malignant disease was 94 and 69 per cent respectively (P=0.03). Conclusion: These results suggest that resection should be the treatment for IPMT. Management of the resection margin could be crucial in avoiding tumour recurrence.
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