Introduction: Venous tumor thrombi have been reported in as many as 33 % of patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs). Surgical thrombectomy is often used to manage tumor thrombi that develop in association with cancers of the liver or kidney. We have likewise used thrombectomy to extract portal venous tumor thrombi in selected cases of pNET.
Methods: We describe all cases of portal venous thrombectomy that were performed at our institution between 2007 and 2014 and illustrate the thrombectomy techniques we used in detail. In addition, we report the results of a PubMed search for English-language articles that were published between 1990 and 2014 and that described surgical therapy for portal venous thrombus developing in association with pNETs.
Results: Among 245 patients with pNET that underwent pancreatectomy at our institution, 26 (11 %) patients required surgical management of tumor involvement of the portal vein or its tributaries concomitant with pancreatectomy, including 9 (3.8 %) patients who underwent portal venous tumor thrombectomy. Eight cases describing surgical management of tumor thrombus including two additional cases of portal venous tumor thrombectomy were identified in the medical literature. Among patients with pNET who underwent thrombectomy at our institution, all nine had non-functioning tumors and eight (89 %) had tumors of the body and/or tail of the pancreas. Six (67 %) were treated with systemic therapy prior to pancreatectomy. Seven (78 %) patients are alive at a median follow-up of 33 months (range 3 to 97).
Conclusion: Venous tumor thrombectomy may be used to safely and effectively extract thrombi from the portal venous system in selected patients with advanced pNET concomitant with pancreatectomy.
Keywords: Distal pancreatectomy; Pancreatoduodenectomy; Portal vein; Thrombectomy; Tumor thrombus; pNET.