Virchows Archiv

, 454:125 | Cite as

Retroperitoneal margin of the pancreaticoduodenectomy specimen: anatomic mapping for the surgical pathologist

  • Mahmoud A. Khalifa
  • Vlad Maksymov
  • Corwyn Rowsell
Review and Perspective


Surgical margin status of the pancreaticoduodenectomy specimen is an independent predictor of survival in patients with pancreatic head cancer. Although most surgical pathologists are familiar with the protocols for grossing and evaluation of the various margins of the specimen, the currently prevailing definitions of the retroperitoneal surgical margin minimize the fact that this margin is actually a combination of surfaces of different anatomical structures. The unfamiliarity with its detailed anatomy often creates communication gaps when the pathologic findings are presented to other members of the multidisciplinary team. The following discussion is the collective opinion of hepato-pancreato-biliary pathologists in two tertiary care Canadian medical centers in this field. It describes the authors’ proposed nomenclature and landmarks for anatomic mapping of the retroperitoneal margin of the pancreaticoduodenectomy resected specimen. Increasing familiarity with the subtleties of the retroperitoneal margin is expected to improve communication and sets the stage for future quality improvement initiatives and translational research in the multidisciplinary setting.


Surgical margins Whipple’s specimen Pancreaticoduodenectomy Anatomy Pancreas 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahmoud A. Khalifa
    • 1
  • Vlad Maksymov
    • 2
  • Corwyn Rowsell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologySunnybrook Health Sciences CenterTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PathologyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada

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