Pitfalls of minimally invasive pancreatoduodenectomy

Patrick W. Underwood, Michael H. Gerber, Steven J. Hughes


Minimally invasive approaches to abdominal surgical procedures have provided superior outcomes when compared to the open approach and thus have become the standard of care. However, minimally invasive pancreatoduodenectomy (MIPD) presents unique difficulties for both laparoscopic and robotic platforms and remains controversial. Ongoing concerns continue about the minimally invasive approach creating meaningful benefit when system-wide data may suggest MIPD results in increased morbidity and mortality during the learning curve. This treatise explores the current state of MIPD, reviewing the volume and quality of data that supports benefit while contrasting the benefits to the unique challenges associated with MIPD that may lead to unacceptable rates of complications and death. We conclude that in a handful of centers, MIPD confers an iterative but not transformative benefit. Significant barriers to the wide-spread acceptance of MIPD are apparent and persist, including: lack of high level data confirming clinical benefit, well defined patient selection criteria, formal education programs that address challenges of the learning curve, and ultimately value.