The Need for Standardized Pathologic Staging of Pancreaticoduodenectomy Specimens
A standardized method for pathologic evaluation and staging of pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) specimens is critical for accurate reporting of the number and location of lymph nodes and margins of resection. We examined the impact of standardized pathologic evaluation (SPE) of PD specimens on the identification of regional lymph nodes and describe our detailed system for the pathologic analysis of the PD specimen. Forty consecutive patients underwent PD for histologically con adenocarcinoma of the pancreatic head between April 1990 and August 1993. Fifteen consecutive specimens were examined before the introduction of the SPE, and 25 consecutive specimens underwent SPE. Resection margins were evaluated by frozen-section analysis, and then the specimen was divided into six regions on an anatomic dissection board for lymph node identification. The 25 specimens examined according to the SPE had a significantly increased number of lymph nodes identified (P = 0.0001) compared with the 15 specimens examined without the SPE. Twelve of the 25 specimens contained positive lymph nodes, 6 of which were confined to the pancreaticoduodenal region. No positive nodes were found in the periaortic region. There were no differences in pathologic variables between patients found to have negative and those with positive regional lymph nodes. SPE of PD specimens provides a method for improved lymph node identification, ensures accurate prospective evaluation of margins of resection, and provides a complete analysis of potentially important pathologic variables. We offer this system as a standardized model for groups engaged in protocol-based clinical research examining innovative multimodality treatment strategies for patients with resectable pancreatic cancer.