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J Gastrointest Surg. 2018 Sep 17. doi: 10.1007/s11605-018-3939-y. [Epub ahead of print]

Major Complications Independently Increase Long-Term Mortality After Pancreatoduodenectomy for Cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 15 Parkman ST, Boston, MA, 02114-02115, USA.
Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 15 Parkman ST, Boston, MA, 02114-02115, USA.



Postoperative major morbidity has been associated with worse survival gastrointestinal tumors. This association remains controversial in pancreatic cancer (PC). We analyzed whether major complications after surgical resection affect long-term survival.


Records of all PC patients resected from 2007 to 2015 were reviewed. Major morbidity was defined as any grade-3 or higher 30-day complications, per the Clavien-Dindo Classification. Patients who died within 90 days after surgery were excluded from survival analysis.


Of 616 patients, 81.7% underwent pancreatoduodenectomy (PD) and 18.3% distal pancreatectomy (DP). Major complications occurred in 19.1% after PD and 15.9% after DP. In patients who survived > 90 days, the likelihood of receiving adjuvant treatment was 43.9% if major complications had occurred, vs. 68.5% if not (p < 0.001), and those who received it started the treatment median 10 days later compared with uncomplicated patients (median 60 days (50-72) vs. 50 days (41-61), p = 0.001). By univariate analysis, in addition to the conventional pathology-related prognostic determinants and the receipt of adjuvant treatment, major complications worsened long-term survival after PD (median OS 26 months vs. 15, p = 0.008). A difference was also seen after DP, but it did not reach statistical significance, likely related to the small sample size (median OS 33 months vs. 18, p = 0.189). At multivariate analysis for PD, major postoperative complications remained independently associated with worse survival [HR 1.37, 95%CI (1.01-1.86)].


Major surgical complications after pancreaticoduodenectomy are associated with worse long-term survival in pancreatic cancer. This effect is independent of the receipt of adjuvant treatment.


Adjuvant treatment; Complications; Major morbidity; Pancreatic cancer; Survival


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