Outcomes of Bariatric Surgery in the Elderly

Varela, J. Esteban; Wilson, Samuel E.; Nguyen, Ninh T.
October 2006
American Surgeon;Oct2006, Vol. 72 Issue 10, p865
Academic Journal
The Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee recently concluded that evidence supports the safety and effectiveness of bariatric surgery in the general adult population. However, more information is needed on the role of bariatric surgery in the elderly. The aim of this study was to examine the outcome of bariatric surgery in the elderly performed at academic centers. Using international Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision diagnosis and procedure codes, we obtained data from the University HealthSystem Consortium Clinical Data Base for all elderly (>60 years) and nonelderly (19-60 years) patients who underwent bariatric surgery for the treatment of morbid obesity between 1999 and 2005. Outcome measures, including patient characteristics, length of stay, 30-day readmission, morbidity, and observed and expected (risk-adjusted) mortality, were compared between groups. Bariatric surgery in the elderly represents 2.7 per cent (n = 1,339) of all bariatric operations being performed at academic centers. Of the 99 University HealthSystem Consortium centers performing bariatric surgery, 78 centers (79%) perform bariatric surgery in the elderly. Compared with nonelderly patients, elderly patients who underwent bariatric surgery had more comorbidities, longer lengths of stay (4.9 days vs 3.8 days, P < 0.01), more overall complications (18.9% vs 10.9%, P < 0.01), pulmonary complications (4.3% vs 2.3%, P < 0.01), hemorrhagic complications (2.5% vs 1.5%, P < 0.01), and wound complications (1.7% vs 1.0%). The in-hospital mortality rate was also higher in the elderly group (0.7% vs 0.3%, P = 0.03). When risk adjusted, the observed-to-expected mortality ratio for the elderly group was 0.9. In a subset of elderly patients with a pre-existing cardiac condition (n = 236), the in-hospital mortality was 4.7 per cent. Bariatric surgery in the elderly represents only a small fraction of the number of bariatric operations performed at academic centers. Although the morbidity and mortality is higher in the elderly, bariatric surgery in the elderly is considered as safe as other gastrointestinal procedures because the observed mortality is better than the expected (risk-adjusted) mortality.


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