From March, 1945, to June, 1960, 542 private patients 70 years or older were operated upon by us for general surgical disease excluding those of the gynecological, nervous, and genitourinary systems, bones and skin. Of this number, 45 died, yielding an 8.3% mortality. Such data is meaningless because neither the nature nor extent of the pathology is stated. For example, gastrectomy for cancer carries an entirely different risk than gastrectomy for peptic ulcer. Likewise, the mortality rate of colectomy for inflammatory disease is not comparable to that for malignancy. To be of value, a statistical survey should provide enough information to assist us in determining what we might anticipate with the next patient upon whom we might operate.
To this end, we studied the records of 390 consecutive private patients 70 years or older who had been operated upon by us only for primary disease of the intraperitoneal digestive