Surgery for Elderly Found Risky


If you ever wondered if surgery was more risky for the elderly, you may have your answer. Science Daily recently ran an article that showed that the risk of complications and early death after performed abdominal surgical procedures apepars to be higher among older adults.

It is estimated that one in six Americans will be age 65 or older by 2020 and that 15 percent of this population will be older than age 85, according to background information in the article [Archives of Surgery]. “Approximately 2 million older Americans undergo abdominal surgical operations each year,” the authors note. “For clinicians, patients and families considering abdominal surgical procedures, informed decision making is challenging because of limited data regarding the risks of adverse perioperative events associated with advancing age.”

The procedures included common surgeries such as gall bladder removal, hysterectomy and colectomy. Complications were recorded within 90 days of discharge and deaths were recorded within 90 days of hospital admission.

The 90-day complication rate was 17.3 percent and the 90-day death rate was 5.4 percent. “Advancing age was associated with increasing frequency of complications (65 to 69 years, 14.6 percent; 70 to 74 years, 16.1 percent; 75 to 79 years, 18.8 percent; 80 to 84 years, 19.9 percent; 85 to 89 years, 22.6 percent; and 90 years or older, 22.7 percent) and mortality (65 to 69 years, 2.5 percent; 70 to 74 years, 3.8 percent; 75 to 79 years, 6 percent; 80 to 84 years, 8.1 percent; 85 to 89 years, 12.6 percent; and 90 years or older, 16.7 percent),” the authors note. “After adjusting for demographic, patient and surgical characteristics as well as hospital volume, the odds of early postoperative death increased considerably with each advance in age category. These associations were found among patients with both cancer and noncancer diagnoses and for both elective and nonelective admissions.”

These results, along with others conducted by the author of the Anti-Aging Firewalls site in the article, Age-related surgery risk, show that vulnerability to multiple causes of illness and death begins to climb at age 50, picks up during the sixth decade of life and goes into overdrive in the 80s. With a majority of population reaching these elder levels within the next few decades, the question over whether age-related surgery risks become higher as one ages is answered. The question now, perhaps, is whether or not surgeries such as the common gall-bladder surgery might remain covered under insurance for those over age eighty?

Only time and the government will tell as they move forward on the health care bill in 2010.

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