, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 341-348
Date: 11 Sep 2008

Do not Deny Pancreatic Resection to Elderly Patients

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Radical resection is the only potential cure for pancreatic malignancies and a useful treatment for other benign diseases, such as pancreatitis. Over the last two decades, medical and surgical improvements have drastically changed the postoperative outcome of elderly patients undergoing pancreatic resection, and appropriate treatment for elderly potential candidates for pancreatic resection has become an important issue.

Materials and Methods

Ninety-eight consecutive patients undergoing radical pancreatic resection between 2003 and 2006 at the Surgery Unit of the University of Modena, Italy, were considered and divided into two age groups, i.e., over 75-year-olds (group 1, 23 patients) and under 75-year-olds (group 2, 75 patients). The two groups were compared as regards demographic features, American Society of Anesthesiologists scores, comorbidities, previous major surgery, surgical procedure, postoperative mortality, and morbidity.


There were no significant differences between the two groups concerning postoperative mortality, and the duration of hospital stay and days in the postoperative intensive care unit were also similar. Complications such as pancreatic fistulas, wound infections, and pneumonia were more frequent in the older group, but the differences were not statistically significant. The overall median survival was 29.4 months and did not differ significantly between the two groups when calculated using the log-rank test (p = 0.961).


In the light of these findings and as reported for other series, old age is probably not directly related with any increase in the rate of postoperative complications, but comorbidities (which are naturally related to the patients’ previous life) may have a key role in the postoperative course.