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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1979 Oct;27(10):433-8.

Comparison of mortality rates for various surgical operations according to age groups, 1951-1977.


A comparison was made of the mortality rates for various surgical operations, by age groups and by time periods. The age groups were: under 60, 60-69, 70-79, and 80 or over. The three time periods were: 1951-1955, 1956-1967, and 1967-1977. Only slight improvement was noted in these mortality rates despite the fact that during the 1951-1977 period many improvements were made in anesthesia, surgical techniques, antibiotic therapy, intensive-care units, and presumably the better understanding of disease. Further improvements will depend almost exclusively upon studying the basic problems of old age, chiefly atherosclerosis with its effects on the heart, blood vessels, brain, respiratory system and urinary tract. Unless this is done, there is no prospect of great improvement in operative results, and no basis for believing that the operative risk in the aged is the same as in the young. Unless the physiologic reserves of the aged can be improved, the surgical mortality rates likely will remain static.

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