Surgery for Gastrinoma and Insulinoma in Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1

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  • * From the Department of Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California, and Digestive Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

The surgical management of pancreatic endocrine tumors in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 remains controversial. Gastrinoma and insulinoma are the 2 most common functional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1. Gastrinomas cause gastric acid hypersecretion and peptic ulcer disease that are best managed using proton pump inhibitors. Surgery to remove the gastrinoma in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 is seldom curative unless a more extensive Whipple pancreaticoduodenectomy is performed. Because the prognosis is excellent, aggressive resections such as a Whipple procedure are only indicated for large, locally metastatic, advanced tumors. Furthermore, surgery to remove imageable tumors that are 2 cm in diameter is associated with excellent outcomes and decreased probability of liver metastases. Because gastrinomas are commonly multiple and most originate in the duodenum and develop lymph node metastases, the duodenum should be opened and all tumors and lymph nodes excised. Insulinomas cause hypoglycemia that results in neuroglycopenic symptoms. Medical management of the hypoglycemia is less effective than that of the gastric acid hypersecretion. Fortunately, the insulinoma is usually clearly identified using routine pancreatic imaging studies. There is a high likelihood of cure when the insulinoma is excised surgically. However, recurrent hypoglycemia may occur, and careful follow-up is indicated.

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Correspondence: Jeffrey A. Norton, MD, Stanford University Medical Center, Department of Surgery, Room H-3591, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5641. E-mail: janorton@stanford.edu
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