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Increased Abdominal Surgery Complications

Tue, 12/22/2009 - 5:21am

The risk of complications and early death after commonly performed abdominal surgical procedures appears to be higher among older adults, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Surgery.

“Approximately 2 million older Americans undergo abdominal surgical operations each year,” the study’s 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.”

Nader N. Massarweh, M.D., and colleagues at University of Washington School of Medicine examined complication and death rates of over 100,000 adults 65 or older who underwent common abdominal procedures such as a gall bladder removal, hysterectomy or colectomy from 1987 to 2004. 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. “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 non-cancer diagnoses and for both elective and non-elective admissions.”

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