To compare clinical characteristics, including postoperative outcomes, in Korean patients 65 years and older with those of younger patients.
A retrospective medical record review.
An adult university hospital.
All patients who underwent various operative procedures, especially for stomach cancer, acute surgical abdomen, and abdominal wall hernia, in the Department of Surgery at Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea, in 1994 and 1995.
Main Outcome Measures
Demographics, disease pattern, length and extent of operation, hospital course including postoperative complications, and mortality.
A clear increase in the patients 65 years and older was found. Of 2893 patients who underwent surgery in 1994, 735 were 40 years and younger (group 1), 1691 were 41 to 64 years old (group 2), and 467 were 65 years and older (group 3). The most common disease was stomach cancer in all age groups, with the highest incidence in group 3. Emergency operations were performed most often in group 1 (P<.05; χ2 test). Malignant neoplasm requiring a surgical procedure was identified more frequently with age (P<.001). Among patients with acute surgical abdomen, acute appendicitis was the most common disease in all age groups, whereas more serious diseases were found with age. In the analysis of stomach cancer, male patients increased with age (P<.001). Patients in group 3 had a poor preoperative physical status, and their perioperative courses were the most eventful among all groups (P<.05). However, no statistical differences among groups were present for resectability, postoperative length of hospitalization, postoperative complication, and mortality. In the analysis of operations for acute surgical abdomen including acute appendicitis, with their unfavorable preoperative physical status and eventful postoperative courses, perforation of the appendix and postoperative complications were most common in group 3 (P<.001). No statistical differences among groups were noted for operative mortality. In addition, in the analysis of abdominal wall hernia, no statistical differences among groups were found for postoperative complication and mortality.
The proportion of patients 65 years and older among all surgical cases has increased in recent years. The proportion of malignant neoplasms, especially stomach cancer, was higher in the aged patients. Most operations were performed electively on the aged patients, as were those on younger patients. In the case of the acute surgical abdomen, severe diseases with an underlying malignant neoplasm were more frequently found in the aged patients. Despite their generally poor physical status, the patients 65 years and older proved to be able to tolerate elective major operations, such as radical gastrectomy for stomach cancer, when optimal perioperative management was provided. However, results of emergency operations in these elderly patients were poorer, with a higher complication rate. Therefore, the aged patient should be regarded as a candidate for surgery but with a more careful and comprehensive approach to his or her treatment perioperatively.