To identify rapidly modifiable risk factors that would improve surgical outcomes in elderly patients undergoing emergent colorectal procedures who are at high risk for morbidity and mortality.
Retrospective review. Patients were identified on the basis of Current Procedural Terminology codes and admission through the emergency department. Medical records were reviewed and data were abstracted for comorbidities, procedural details, and in-hospital morbidity and mortality.
University tertiary referral center.
Two hundred ninety-two patients 65 years or older undergoing emergency colorectal procedures from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2006.
Main Outcome Measures
Postoperative morbidity (intensive care unit days, ventilator days, pneumonia, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolus, myocardial infarction, and cerebrovascular accident) and mortality.
The most frequent presenting diagnoses were obstructing or perforated colorectal carcinoma (30%) and perforated diverticulitis (25%). Average age at presentation was 78.1 years, and in-hospital mortality was 15%. One hundred one patients (35%) experienced a total of 195 complications. Pneumonia (25%), persistent or recurrent respiratory failure (15%), and myocardial infarction (12%) were the most frequent complications. Operative time, shock, renal insufficiency, and significant intra-abdominal contamination or frank peritonitis were associated with morbidity. Age, septic shock at presentation, large estimated intraoperative blood loss, delay to operation, and development of a complication were associated with in-hospital mortality.
Emergent colorectal procedures in the elderly are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Minimizing the delay to definitive operative care may improve outcomes. These procedures frequently involve locally advanced colorectal cancer, emphasizing the need for improved colorectal cancer screening.