Pancreatic or liver resection for malignancy is safe and effective for the elderly

Y. Fong, L. H. Blumgart, J. G. Fortner, M. F. Brennan, G. F. Sheldon, S. I. Schwartz, L. J. Greenfield, M. M. Trede, H. A. Pitt, J. L. Meakins, J. Terblanche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

270 Scopus citations


Background: Liver resection, or pancreaticoduodenectomy, has traditionally been thought to have a high morbidity and mortality rate among the elderly. Recent improvements in surgical and anesthetic techniques, an increasing number of elderly patients, and an increasing need to justify use of limited health care resources prompted an assessment of recent surgical outcomes. Methods: Five hundred seventy-seven liver resections (July 1985-July 1994) performed for metastatic colorectal cancer and 488 pancreatic resections (October 1983-July 1994) performed for pancreatic malignancies were identified in departmental data bases. Outcomes of patients younger than age 70 years were compared with those of patients age 70 years or older. Results: Liver resection for 128 patients age 70 years or older resulted in a 4% perioperative mortality rate and a 42% complication rate. Median hospital stay was 13 days, and 8% of the patients required admission to the intensive care unit (ICU). Median survival was 40 months, and the 5 year survival rate was 35%. No differences were found between results for the elderly and those for younger patients who had undergone liver resection, except for a minimally shorter hospital stay for the younger patients (median, 12 days vs 13 days; p = 0003). Pancreatic resection for 138 elderly patients resulted in a mortality rate of 6% and a complication rate of 45%. Median stay was 20 days, and 19% of the patients required ICU admission, results identical to those for the younger cohort. Long term survival was poorer for the elderly patients, with a 5 year survival rate of 21% compared with 29% for the younger cohort (p = 0.03). Conclusions: Major liver or pancreatic resections can be performed for the elderly with acceptable morbidity and mortality rates and possible long term survival. Chronologic age alone is not a contraindication to liver or pancreatic resection for malignancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-437
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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