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J Gastrointest Surg. 2009 Nov;13(11):1963-74; discussion 1974-5. doi: 10.1007/s11605-009-1006-4. Epub 2009 Sep 16.

Readmission after pancreatectomy for pancreatic cancer in Medicare patients.

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Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555-0542, USA.



The objective of this study was to use a population-based dataset to evaluate the number of readmissions and reasons for readmission in Medicare patients undergoing pancreatectomy for pancreatic cancer.


We used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare linked data (1992-2003) to evaluate the initial hospitalization, readmission rates within 30 days (early), and between 30 days and 1 year (late) after initial discharge and reasons for readmission in patients 66 years and older undergoing pancreatectomy.


We identified 1,730 subjects who underwent pancreatectomy for pancreatic cancer. The in-hospital mortality was 7.5%. The overall Kaplan-Meier readmission rate was 16% at 30 days and 53% at 1 year, accounting for 15,409 additional hospital days. Early readmissions were clearly related to operative complications in 80% of cases and unrelated diagnoses in 20% of cases. Late readmissions were related to recurrence in 48%, operative complications in 25%, and unrelated diagnoses in 27% of cases. In a multivariate analysis, only distal pancreatic resection (P = 0.02) and initial postoperative length of stay > or =10 days (P = 0.03) predicted early readmission. When compared to patients not readmitted, patients readmitted early had worse median survival (11.8 vs.16.5 months, P = 0.04), but the 5-year survival was identical (18%). Late readmission was associated with worse median and 5-year survival (19.4 vs. 12.1 months, 12% vs. 21%, P < 0.0001).


Our study demonstrates overall 30-day and 1-year readmission rates of 16% and 53%. The majority of early readmissions were related to postoperative complications but not related to patient and tumor characteristics. Complications causing early readmission are a cause of early mortality and are potentially preventable. Conversely, late readmissions are related to disease progression and are a marker of early mortality and not the cause.

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