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Volume 10 Supplement 1

de Senectute: Age and Health Forum

Pancreatic surgery in elderly patients


Elderly pts are at a greater risk of post-operative complications than younger ones, due to several pre-existing co-morbidities.

Nevertheless, in recent years, improvements in surgical techniques and mainly in anesthesiology have allowed successful treatments also in elderly people.

Materials and methods

122 pts (M: 65; F: 57), over 70 years of age, affected with pancreatic pathologies, were considered. Pre-existing co-morbidities were mainly represented by: hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, cardiac valve disease.

Percutaneous and or endoscopic US-guided biopsy of the pancreas for histopathologic demonstration of cancer before surgery or chemotherapy was always performed.

88 pts suffered from cancer of the pancreas; 6 from benign tumors of the pancreas; 26 from pancreatitis; 1 from cancer of the transverse colon infiltrating the pancreas and the stomach and 1 from cancer of the stomach infiltrating the head of the pancreas.


92 pts underwent surgery and were thus divided: 67 for cancer, 7 for benign pathologies and 18 for pancreatitis; 53 pts underwent pancreatic resections and were thus divided: 1 total pancreatectomy, 10 distal splenopancreatectomies, 19 pancreaticoduodenectomies, 23 partial resections. 24 pts underwent surgical palliation for unresectable cancer, conditioning obstructive jaundice and or duodenal obstruction. 3 pts underwent intraoperative biopsy.

25 pts with obstructive jaundice, underwent ERCP, with positioning of endo-luminal stent before surgery or before chemotherapy (if resective surgery was contraindicated). After resective surgery of the pancreas, mean post-operative ICU stay and mean post-operative hospital stay were 7 and 20 days respectively; major post-operative complications were registered; 2 pts died in the post-operative period.


The overall outcome of pancreatic surgery in the elderly is acceptable; furthermore if we consider that it represents the only chance of cure in several pts with pancreatic disease we think that it should be offered also to elderly pts.


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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Prati, U., Roveda, L., De Vinci, R. et al. Pancreatic surgery in elderly patients. BMC Geriatr 10 (Suppl 1), A25 (2010).

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