Ampullary tumors: endoscopic versus operative management

Surg Innov. 2004 Dec;11(4):255-63. doi: 10.1177/155335060401100409.


Most ampullary adenomas (80%) are common benign ampullary tumors; however, they can range from mild dysplasia to high-grade dysplasia to invasive carcinoma. They are considered premalignant lesions found in the setting of familial polyposis syndromes or found sporadically, usually manifested by vague abdominal pain, liver enzyme elevation, jaundice, recurrent pancreatitis, or with uncommon symptoms such as gastrointestinal bleeding or duodenal obstruction. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography with biopsy is a minimally invasive technique used to visualize these tumors directly and to evaluate their histologic characteristics. Definitive treatment primarily depends on these histologic results. Local resection has a high rate of recurrence (5% to 30%) and requires postoperative endoscopic surveillance, which is the reason it is not considered as a first choice in the management of ampullary tumors. The operative mortality is 10% or less for pancreaticoduodenectomy, a procedure of choice at most experienced centers for frank carcinoma, foci papillary adenocarcinoma in pre-excisional biopsies, or high-grade dysplasia ampullary adenomas. Endoscopic interventions for presumed benign ampullary adenomas have resolved symptoms of obstruction, but long-term follow up is necessary to detect early malignant transformation. In summary, the choice of treatment depends on level of surgical skill available, patient tolerance of long-term endoscopic surveillance versus radical surgery, and the presence or absence of coexisting familial adenomatous polyposis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Ampulla of Vater / pathology*
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde / methods
  • Common Bile Duct Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Common Bile Duct Neoplasms / mortality
  • Common Bile Duct Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Endosonography / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / methods*
  • Laparotomy / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy / methods
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome