Background Expected mortality after elective pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) in contemporary series is less than 5% in elderly patients; however, to our knowledge, mortality rate has not been correlated with indication for PD. We hypothesized that perioperative risk following PD would correlate with diagnostic indication in older patients. Methods The American College of Surgeons NSQIP database was reviewed to identify patients (<80 and ≥80 years) who underwent PD from January 1, 2005, through December 31, 2012. High- and low-risk diagnoses were determined by using 30-day, major-morbidity data. Univariate and multivariable analyses were used to compare outcomes. Results Pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis were found to be low-risk diagnoses in elderly patients, whereas bile duct and ampullary neoplasm, duodenal neoplasm, and neuroendocrine tumors were high-risk diagnoses. The risk of 30-day mortality for older patients (≥80 y) undergoing PD was 6.1% for those with high-risk diagnoses vs 4.5% for those with low-risk diagnoses (P = .27). On multivariable analysis (controlling for confounders), a high-risk diagnosis was shown to be an independent predictor of prolonged length of stay, superficial surgical-site infection (SSI), and organ-space SSI. There was no increased risk of complications in patients ≥80 years with low-risk diagnoses. Conclusion In patients 80 or older undergoing PD, perioperative risk varies by diagnostic indication. Patients should receive preoperative counseling about their risk.
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