Objective 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. Methods 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. Results 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 ≥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). Conclusions 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.
- Readmission. Pancreatic resection. Kaplan-Meier. Operative complications
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