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World J Surg. 2006 Apr;30(4):547-52.

Which octogenarians do poorly after major open abdominal surgery in our Asian population?

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Department of General Surgery, Changi General Hospital, 2 Simei Street 3, 529889, Singapore.



As the elderly population grows and surgeons are faced with more octogenarians, there is a need to know how our Asian patients fair after major surgery.


A retrospective review of 125 octogenarians who underwent major abdominal surgery between January 1997 and September 2003 was performed. Preoperative condition was assessed using a weighted index of comorbidity used in Charlson Comorbidity Index and classification of patients according to the American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA). Outcome was measured as to whether complications developed, 30-day mortality and whether there was return to premorbid function.


The patients had a mean age of 84.6 years (range: 80-106). Nearly half (48.8%, n = 61) the cases were emergency cases. The median index of comorbidity was 3, and 29.6% of patients were classified either ASA III or IV. The operations were mostly stomach, small bowel or large bowel resection. Multivariate analysis revealed that emergency operations were associated with significantly increased odds of morbidity. The overall 30-day mortality was 5.6%, being only 4.7% for elective cases, despite high morbidity rates. ASA classification, comorbidity index >5, development of acute coronary syndrome and anastomotic leakage were found on multivariate analysis to significantly increase the odds of mortality. For elective cases, 82.8% of patients were able to return to their premorbid functional status. Development of complications and comorbidity index >5 were found to predict failure of its occurrence. Low serum albumin and haemoglobin and renal impairment were also predictors of adverse outcome.


Efforts to improve outcome in geriatric surgery patients should emphasize a shift of attitude towards elective surgery rather than doing emergency operations when complications occur and also target the optimization of predictors of adverse outcome. Octogenarians should not be denied elective surgery.

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