Advanced Age Does Not Contribute to Increased Risks or Poor Outcome after Major Abdominal Operations

Blair, Sarah L.; Schwarz, Roderiche E.
December 2001
American Surgeon;Dec2001, Vol. 67 Issue 12, p1123
Academic Journal
Elderly patients are still frequently denied major operations out of concerns over increased morbidity. The impact of advanced age on morbidity, mortality, and late outcomes after major gastric and pancreatic resections was studied by retrospective review with Chi square and regression analysis. Between July 1987 and June 2000, 179 patients underwent a major gastrectomy or pancreatectomy procedure at the City of Hope Cancer Center. There were 96 males and 83 females with a median age of 64 years (range 17-97) and elderly subsets more than 70 (n = 53) and more than 80 (n = 18) years of age. Diagnoses included gastric cancer (n = 83, 46%), pancreatic or periampullary cancer (n = 78, 44%), and benign pancreatic (n = 11, 6%) or gastric (n = 7, 4%) conditions. Age >70 years was correlated with more complex underlying medical conditions (P = 0.001) and gastrectomy for cancer (P = 0.01). None of four in-hospital deaths or 11 90-day lethal events occurred in patients >70 years of age (P = 0.005). Overall complications (35% vs 49%) and major complications (25% vs 37%) were less frequent in the older patient group [P = not significant (NS)]. Median intensive care unit stay (3 vs 2 days) and hospital stay (12 vs 12.5 days) were similar (P = NS). Pancreatoduodenectomy, gastrectomy for "benign" indications, and splenectomy--but not age--were significant prognostic variables for increased complications and longer hospital stay (at P < 0.05). At a median follow-up of 13 months (20 for survivors) the median survival after resection for gastric cancer (30 vs 16 months) or pancreatic/periampullary cancer (30 vs 23 months) was not inferior in elderly patients (P = NS). Five-year disease-free survival was superior in gastric cancer patients >70 years (59% vs 26%, P = 0.03) but not for pancreatic cancer. Advanced age under current clinical selection criteria does not impose increased hazards beyond disease- and procedure-related risk factors for patients undergoing gastrectom...


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