BACKGROUND: During pancreaticoduodenectomy, frozen section pancreatic margin analysis permits to extend the resection in case of a positive margin, to achieve R0 margin. We aim to assess if patients having an R0 margin following the extension of the pancreatectomy after a positive frozen section (secondary R0) have different survival compared to those with R1 resection or primary R0 resection.
METHODS: A systematic search was performed to identify all studies published up to March 2016 analyzing the survival of patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy according to the results of frozen section pancreatic margin examination. Clinical effectiveness was synthetized through a narrative review with full tabulation of results.
RESULTS: Four studies published between 2010 and 2014 were retrieved, including 2580 patients. A primary R0 resection was obtained in a percentage of patients ranging from 36.2% to 85.5%, whereas secondary R0 in 9.4%-57.8% of cases and R1 in 5.1%-9.2%. Median survival ranged from 19 to 29 months in R0 patients, from 11.9 to 18 months in secondary R0, and from 12 to 23 months in R1 patients. None of the study demonstrated a survival benefit of extending the resection to obtain a secondary R0 pancreatic margin.
CONCLUSIONS: All the studies were concordant, and failed to demonstrate the survival benefit of additional pancreatic resection to obtain a secondary R0. However, inadequate surgery should not be advocated. This review suggests that re-resection of the pancreatic margin may have limited impact on patients' survival.