Morbidity and mortality after radical and palliative pancreatic cancer surgery. Risk factors influencing the short-term results

Ann Surg. 1993 Apr;217(4):356-68. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199304000-00007.


Objective: To analyze the morbidity and mortality after radical and palliative pancreatic cancer surgery in Norway, especially the risk factors.

Summary background data: A prospective multicenter study between 1984-1987 including only histologically or cytologically verified adenocarcinoma of the pancreas (N = 442) or the papilla of Vater (N = 30); 84 patients (19%) with pancreatic carcinoma and 24 patients (80%) with papilla carcinoma underwent radical operations. A palliative procedure was performed in 252 patients (53%).

Methods: Clinical data, surgical procedures and the following morbidity and mortality were recorded on standardized forms. The risk factors were analyzed by a logistic multiple regression model.

Results: The morbidity, reoperation, and mortality rates were 43, 18, and 11% after radical surgery and 23, 4, and 14% after palliative surgery. Karnofsky's index was the sole independent risk factor for death after radical surgery. Splenectomy, age, and TNM stage influenced morbidity. Diabetes, Karnofsky's index, and liver metastases were risk factors in palliative surgery.

Conclusions: The morbidity and mortality risks were comparable between total pancreatectomy and a Whipple's procedure and between biliary and a double bypass. Preoperative biliary drainage had no impact on the risks and may be abandoned. High age is a relative and a low Karnofsky's index an absolute contraindication for radical surgery. Nonsurgical palliation of jaundice should be considered according to the presence of independent risk factors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Palliative Care*
  • Pancreatectomy / mortality*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy / mortality*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors