Elderly often have poor outcomes from surgery: Study

A new study has shown the ill effects of surgery in the elderly. Results of the Australian study shows that one in five older patients will suffer complications from surgery and one in 20 will die within 30 days. Lead author and Associate Professor David Story from the University of Sydney and his team looked at more than 4,100 patients aged over 70 for the study.

The operations spanned over 23 metropolitan and regional hospitals. Joint replacements, hernia and gall bladder removal, cancer-related bowel surgery, and ear nose and throat surgeries were common procedures included in the REASON study. The study deliberately excluded cardiac surgeries, whose patients all recover in intensive care.

The study findings were published in the journal Anaesthesia.

Dr. Story feels this could change the way elderly patients are treated. Authors note that as more of the elderly go under the knife many have existing illness which was a factor in developing complications after surgery. Associate Professor Story points out that more attention to the individual is necessary. He said, “We found that patient factors were often far more important than the operation itself, which is a very different way of thinking…We now know that with patients with complex medical problems, the degree of illness is a major concern for post-operative care and that it's very important to individualize treatment under a highly specialized care regime before, during and after surgery.”

Dr Story will present the data at an Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) meeting in South Australia this weekend.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Henry Henry United States says:

    Maybe if they did not have to wait for years to get some treatment the outcome would be different.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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