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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1975 Jan;23(1):42-6.

Surgical mortality in the elderly.


Surgical mortality rates were reviewed for the four-year period 1970-1973, in a series of 2,186 operations. The majority of these operations were performed in patients aged 70 or older; of these, 116 were performed in patients of the 90+ age group. Predictably, the surgical mortality in the older groups was higher than in the younger groups. However, the overall mortality for patients aged 70 or older was 4.9 per cent as compared with 8 to 21 per cent for series reported in the literature. Gastrointestinal, biliary, and chest procedures carried a much higher mortality than did the other major categories. Minor surgical operations in the elderly should be approached with caution since they may be associated with a significant mortality rate. Nevertheless, elderly patients should not be denied surgical intervention, major or minor, on the basis of age alone when the operation can make their remaining years more comfortable.

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