Surgery in the Nineties

Rigbert, David; Cole, Michael; Hiyama, Daryl; McFadden, David
September 2000
American Surgeon;Sep2000, Vol. 66 Issue 9, p813
Academic Journal
The population of the United States is aging, and by 2020 it is estimated that 16 per cent of U.S. citizens will be over 65 years of age. Little has been published about the results of surgery in nonagenarians but mortality rates of 45 per cent are reported. Given recent improvements in perioperative care we reviewed the experience with major general surgical operative procedures in nonagenarians. We reviewed the charts of patients greater than or equal to 90 years of age who underwent general surgical procedures at UCLA Medical Center since 1986. No patients were excluded. Thirty-two patients were identified. Most (87.5%) patients had significant premorbid conditions. The most common diagnoses were cancer (12), incarcerated hernia (seven), trauma (three), colonic volvulus (two), and cholecystitis (two). Overall perioperative mortality was 9.4 per cent (3 of 32). Twenty-two surgeries (69%) were performed on an emergency basis, and all three deaths were in this group (13.6%). Overall morbidity rate was 57 per cent. Mean intensive care unit stay was 4.8 days. Most patients were discharged home. Our findings support the perioperative safety of elective general surgery in nonagenarians (0% mortality and 20% morbidity). We also found an acceptable risk (13.6% mortality and 68% morbidity) for emergency procedures despite significant comorbid conditions. Most of the patients had acceptable functional outcomes.


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