Patients aged 70 years and older undergo proportionately more emergency and permanent fecal ostomy procedures than younger patients. Older patients have comparable short-term outcomes in morbidity and mortality, with adverse outcomes dependent on comorbid conditions and timing of the procedure rather than age alone. Older patients should be treated similarly to younger patients in terms of subsequent ostomy takedown, if an acceptable operative risk.
A retrospective review of our facility's experience with fecal ostomies between 1992 and 2002 was performed to determine the effect of advanced age on surgical outcome measures.
A tertiary managed care medical center.
Three hundred eighty-three consecutive patients who underwent new fecal ostomy procedures between October 1, 1992, and October 1, 2002. One hundred three patients were aged 70 years or older (mean age, 76.4 years), and 280 patients were younger than 70 years (mean age, 49.6 years). There were 220 elective procedures and 163 emergency procedures. Outcome was analyzed between the 2 age groups.
Main Outcome Measures
Indications for ostomy, type of ostomy, preoperative comorbidity, postoperative morbidity and mortality, length of intensive care unit and hospital stay, and subsequent ostomy takedown success.
Three hundred eighty-three new fecal ostomies were created. The diagnosis leading to creation of the ostomy was more often malignancy in older patients (74.8%) compared with younger patients (45.0%). Both age groups underwent a similar proportion of emergency procedures (older vs younger patients, 43.7% vs 42.1%; P = .07), but more older patients were left with permanent stomas (59.2% vs 41.1%, P = .002). Older patients also had more preoperative comorbidities (P = .001), higher American Society of Anesthesiologists scores (P = .001), longer hospital stays (P = .04), and more postoperative complications. Thirty-day mortality was 6.8% in the older group vs 0.4% in the younger group (P = .001). Fewer older patients were eligible for ostomy reversal (41.1% vs 59.2%), and a smaller proportion of eligible older patients actually underwent the reversal procedure (78.7% vs 95.2%). The complication rate associated with ostomy reversal was not significantly different in the 2 age groups (P = .002).
Patients aged 70 and older undergo proportionately more permanent fecal ostomy procedures than younger patients, with longer hospital stays, more postoperative complications, and higher mortality rates. However, surgical outcome measures in older patients following ostomy procedures remain within acceptable standards. Furthermore, older patients tolerate ostomy reversal with minimal morbidity and should not be denied consideration based on age alone if an eligible candidate.