Journal of Cancer Therapy, 2013, 4, 27-30 Published Online October 2013 ( 27
Laparoscopic Gastrectomy after the Age of Eighty: Still a
Good Choice?
José Barbosa1,2*, Silvestre Carneiro1,2, John Preto1,2, Hugo Sousa1,2, André Pinho1,2, Costa Maia1
1Centro Hospitalar S. João, Oporto, Portugal; 2Oporto Medical School, Oporto, Portugal.
Email: *
Received July 16th, 2013; revised August 14th, 2013; accepted August 22nd, 2013
Copyright © 2013 José Barbosa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Main Goals: Evaluation and comparison of short-term results of totally laparoscopic gastrectomy performed for gastric
carcinoma in two groups of patients: older and younger than eighty years. Material and Methods: From 1st January
2011 to 31st October 2012, we have treated 110 patients for gastric carcinoma. 79 patients were submitted to radical
gastric resection (the remainder 31 patients either presented with cardia carcinoma or were submitted to palliative
treatment). In 33 cases we performed a laparoscopic gastrectomy while in the remainder 46 cases, the open approach
was used. The 33 patients operated by a laparoscopic approach were the subject of this study. They were divided in two
grou p s : G ro u p A —p at ie n ts e ig h ty ye ar s o ld o r o ld er ( 10 c as es ) and Group B—patients younger than 80 years ( 2 3 cas e s) .
We evaluated and compared the short-term outcomes of both groups. Results: In all 33 cases, a gastrectomy was per-
formed using a totally laparoscopic approach. There was no need to convert into open surgery. No patient needed to
stay in the Intensive Care Unit. One patient needed a night stay in the Post Anesthetic Care Unit, due to subcutaneous
emphysema (which resolved within 24 hours). There was a fatality in Group B, due to hepatic failure. The median of
the operating time was 224 minutes in Group B and 199 minutes in Group A. The difference was non-significant (p-
value > 0.05). Group A patients were discharged in 6 to 10 days while those in Group B were discharged in 6 to 9 days.
Conclusion: The results in this series suggest that totally laparoscopic gastrectomy is effective and safe in patients
eighty years old and older, with low morbidity and mortality and short hospital stay. It compares favourably with the
results of the same technique applied to younger patients. We suggest that laparoscopic approach to gastrectomy can be
used in older patients, allowing them to benefit from the advantages of minimally invasive surgery.
Keywords: Gastrectomy; Elderly; Laparoscopic; Minimally; Cancer
1. Introduction
The steady increase in life expectancy and better health-
care brought about an increase in surgical patients of
advanced age. A good example is the current rise of the
number of patients eighty years and older presenting with
gastric carcinoma with a resectable tumour. Surgeons
often operate these patients with a curative intent.
Gastrectomy is a procedure with non-negligible mor-
bidity and mortality in all patients [1], particularly in
older patie nt s [2, 3] .
The widespread use of minimally invasive surgery
brought a reduction of morbidity as well as mortality. Its
use in oncologic surgery, mainly colorectal, has proved
to warrant outcomes at least as good as those of open
Gastric minimally invasive surgery has been per-
formed mainly in early gastric cancer for some time in
far-eastern countries. In the West this approach suffered
a delayed and slow start, probably due to a greater inci-
dence of advanced gastric cancer and a population with a
bigger body mass index, which render this operation
more complex and time-consuming in the West than in
the East.
Laparoscopic gastrectomy is gaining momentum in the
West. Its advantages may enable surgeons to reduce the
rates of morbidity and mortality. If this proves to be true
in old patients too, laparoscopic gastrectomy might wi-
den surgical indications for this group of patients.
2. Material and Methods
In our Department we have operated 110 patients for
gastric carcinoma, from the 1st January 2011 to the 31st
*Corresponding a uthor.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JCT
Laparoscopic Gastrectomy after the Age of Eighty: Still a Good Choice?
October 2012.
All surgeons involved in this series had extensive ex-
perience in gastroesophageal surgery for cancer as well
as experience in all areas of laparoscopic surgery for eso-
phagogastric benign disease (anti-reflux procedures, mi-
otomy, bariatric surgery, perforated peptic ulcer…). Be-
fore the start of this series they already had experience in
laparoscopic gastrectomy.
In 79 patients we performed agastric resection with
curative intent (the remaind er 31 patients either presented
with cardia carcinoma or were submitted to palliative
All patients were operated following a standardized
technique, particularly the lymphadenectomy (we advo-
cate a D2 lymphadenectomy).
In 46 cases we performed a standard open gastrectomy
and the in remainder 33 cases we used a laparoscopic
approach to perform the gastrectomy.
The 33 patients subjected to the laparoscopic approach
were the object of this study. We recorded and compared
patient demographic data, comorbidities, ASA state, pa-
thologic data and perioperative parameters.
Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS v.20.
Continuous variables were compared using the Student
t-test and for categorical analysis we used the chi-square
test. Values of p < 0.05 were considered statistically sig-
The 33 patients were divided in two groups: Group
A—patients 80 years old and older (10 cases); Group
B—patients younger than 80 years (23 cases).
Before the operation all patients were submitted to an-
tibiotic and thromboembolic prophylaxis. The patients
were positioned in the operating table in supine position
with a slight procubitus. A pneumatic graduated com-
pression device was applied to the lower limbs.
The surgeon placed himself between the lower limbs,
facing the head of the patient, with assistants on both
sides of the patient.
Five trocars were used: 10 mm midline 2 cm above the
umbilicus, 10 mm in the left mammary line, 10 mm in
the right mammary line, 5 mm just left to the xiphoid
process and 10 mm in the anterior axillary line, at the
umbilical level.
We used 12 to 14 mmHg of CO2 pressure to establish
and maintain the pneumoperitoneum.
After the access to the peritoneal cavity was granted,
the gastrectomy was performed using in the same stan-
dardized steps of the open techniqu e .
We performed either subtotal gastrectomy with Bill-
roth II gastrojejunostomy or total gastrectomy with eso-
phagojejunal Roux-en-Y reconstruction.
In all cases a D2 lymphadenectomy was performed
with total resection of the greater omentum.
3. Results
33 patients were submitted to laparoscopic gastrectomy,
with ages ranging from 25 to 90 years. 10 patients were
eighty years old or older while 23 patients were younger
than eighty years.
Demographic and clinical data are displayed in Table
1. Mean age was 82.30 years in Group A and 64.25 in
Group B. Gender distribution was similar in both groups
(p = 0.96). Body mass index (BMI) was slightly bigger in
Group B—26.55 versus 24.05 in Group A (p = 0.06).
Comorbitities and ASA physical status were comparable
in both groups (p > 0.05).
Operative and perioperative data are displayed in Ta-
ble 2. Surgical time was greater in Group B, but the dif-
ference did not reach statistical significance. This differ-
ence can be explained by the bigger BMI of Group B and
by the fact that there are more total gastrectomies in this
group of patients (two in Group A and three in Group B).
The post operative period was very similar between
both groups, with resumption of oral feeding and time to
first bowel movement being similar in both groups (p >
Post operative analgesic consumption was analogous
in both groups (p > 0.05).
The number of days from operation to discharge was
the similar in both groups.
Morbidity was similar in younger and older patients:
in Group A there was a case of subcutaneous emphysema
occurring during surgery which resolved spontaneously
within 24 hours. In Group B there were two cases of
morbidity: a case was submitted to total gastrectomy and
had to be reoperated befor e 24 hours due to bleeding in a
trocar site; Another patient, who had undergone a distal
gastrectomy, suffered splenic artery thrombosis.
The single perioperative fatality case in the whole se-
ries occurred in Group B: a patient suffering from hepatic
insufficiency and several other comorbidities, developed
post operative hepatic failure eventually leading to death.
The data in Tab le 3 summarizes the pathological find-
Tumour size and location were not significantly dif-
ferent in both groups (p > 0.05).
All operations were curative (R0). However in each
group there was a case of invasion of the resection mar-
gin, not in direct continuity with the main lesion but re-
sulting from the identification of a ly mphatic vessel con-
taining tumour cells.
Other pathologic parameters were also similar in both
groups, namely the number of harvested lymphnodes
(median 27 in Group A and 25.5 in Group B, p > 0.05).
All patients but two are alive and disease free: One pa-
tient died from stroke 9 months after surgery, a cause of
death probably unrelated to his underlying condition.
Another one died in the immediate post operative period,
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JCT
Laparoscopic Gastrectomy after the Age of Eighty: Still a Good Choice? 29
Table 1. Demographic data and clinical findings.
Group A Group B p-value
Age—mean (max/min) 82.30 (90/80) 64.25 (79/25)
Gender M/F 6/4 14/9 0.96
Body mass index—mean 24.05 26.55 0.06
Comorbidities (Y/N) 2/8 11/12 0.13
Table 2. Operative and postoperative findings.
Group A Group Bp-value
Operative time
(minutes)—mean (max/min)
Total Gastrectomy/Subtotal
Blood transfusion Y/N 0/0 0/0
Reoperation Y/N 1/0 0/0
Analgesic need:
One drug
More than one drug
12 0.678
Days to start oral
feeding—median (max/min) 4.00 (6/3) 4.50 (6/3)0.819
Days to first
flatus—median (max/min) 4.00 (6/3) 5.00 (6/2)0.257
Morbidity Y/N 1/9 3/20 0.806
Length of stay—median
(max/min) 7.00 (10/6) 8.00 (9/6)0.221
Table 3. Pathological findings.
Group A Group B p-value
Tumour size (cm)—median
(max/min) 4.10 (18/1.1) 4.00 ( 18/1.0)0.858
Tumour location:
Depth of invasion (T):
(max/min) 27.00 (47/12) 25.50 (42/10)0.863
Positive lymphnodes—mean
(max/min) 0.00 (20/0) 2.60 (24/0)0.910
Positive resection margins Y/N 1/9 1/22 0.503
due to hepatic failure as mentioned before. Both patients
were younger than 80 years and both had undergone a
distal gastrectomy.
4. Discussion
The advantag es and the good results of laparoscopic su r-
gery in the treatment of several diseases are widely
known. Gastric cancer should be no excepti on.
There are reports of laparoscopic atypical gastric re-
sections [4] and distal gastrectomy with Billroth II re-
construction for benign ulcer disease [5] dating from the
early nineties.
The first laparoscopic gastrectomy for carcinoma was
performed by Kitano [6] in 1994. The number of reports
of such operations for treatment of early gastric cancer
has been increasing, mainly in far-eastern countries. In
the West there seems to be a delay in the widespread use
of this kind of operation. In any case a wide consensus
about the role of laparoscopic gastrectomy in the treat-
ment of advanced gastric cancer is still lacking.
Recently a trend to an increase in the number of re-
ports of short-term results of laparoscopic gastrectomy
has been observed in the West. A small number of publi-
cation s address the long-terms results. However the avail-
able data on the matter are still largely insufficient [7].
Several studies, both randomized and non-randomized,
evidenced better outcomes for laparoscopic gastrectomy
than open gastrectomy. However, most of these studies
were carried in the Far East and we can not be certain yet
that similar outcomes can be obtained in the West [8].
Some studies did compare perioperative results be-
tween open access and laparoscopic gastrectomy [9,10]
while some authors studied the influence of age on the
outcomes [11-13].
The available data show an advantage of laparoscopic
gastrectomy over open gastrectomy concerning periop-
erative results [12,14-16].
In this study we evaluated a group of patients with a
definite risk factor—old age—and we compared them to
younger patients operated with the same technique by the
same group of surgeons, as some authors did previously
Although the comorbidity rate was slightly higher in
the group of younger patients, the observed difference
did not reach statistical significance a fact already ob-
served by other authors who compared younger and older
patients presen t i ng wit h gast ric cancer [11,13,17,19,20].
The older patients (Group A) fared as well as the
younger ones: There was no mortality and morbidity was
minor in this group. Also there was no difference be-
tween groups in the post operative period. Therefore our
series seems to point that laparoscopic gastrectomy can
be applied to older patients with the same profile of ef-
fectiveness and safety of the general population.
5. Conclusions
We have studied the outcomes of two groups of patients
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JCT
Laparoscopic Gastrectomy after the Age of Eighty: Still a Good Choice?
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JCT
submitted to laparosco pic gastrectomy—less than 80 and
80 or greater age. They were matched for other demogra-
phic, perioperative and pathological parameters.
Although this is a preliminary study, our results show
a clear trend for similar results in both groups.
We postulate that laparoscopic gastrectomy can be
safely recommended for gastric carcinoma in patients
older than 80 years, with all the advantages of the lapar-
oscopic approach.
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