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Moments in Surgical History
December 21, 2009

Alessandro Codivilla and the First Pancreatoduodenectomy

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Gastroenterologic and General Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Arch Surg. 2009;144(12):1179-1184. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2009.219

For some reason, we are powerfully drawn to the subject of beginnings. We yearn to know about origins, and we readily construct myths when we do not have data.—Gould1

In the field of pancreatic surgery, probably no operation has engendered more historic debate than the origin of the pancreatoduodenectomy, with the misleading and arguably inappropriate eponyms of the “Whipple” or the “Kausch-Whipple” procedure. The question of who performed the first pancreatoduodenectomy remains an intriguing one that has been debated from a nationalistic approach as well as a historic one, but data confirming these fervent arguments have often been missing; thus, we felt the need for clarification of the unrecorded but true story of the first pancreatoduodenectomy.

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