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Z Gerontol Geriatr. 1997 May-Jun;30(3):208-19.

[Gastrointestinal problems in elderly patients].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Medizinische Klinik I, Bereich Gastroenterologie, Medizinische Universität zu Lübeck.


The following article contains a short review on gastrointestinal problems of the elderly. The diseases of the esophagus occurring in the elderly are not much different from those in younger patients. Clinically relevant in the stomach are above all bleeding ulcerations and the gastric carcinoma occurring more frequently in advanced age. The pyogenic liver abscess is diagnosed primarily in the elderly and is at a rule the consequence of an infection of the gall bladder and other abdominal sites. The hepatocellular carcinoma does not grow rapidly in the elderly, but its accompanying unfavourable survival rate at five years is also approximately 5 per cent. In the case of symptomatic cholelithiasis, older high risk patients do especially profit from minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical procedures. Today, bile duct calculi are preferably treated by endoscopic papillotomy and following extraction of the calculi. The pancreas is subjected to atrophy, lipomatosis and fibrosis at the advanced age. However, these changes are rarely of clinical relevance. A frequent problem in clinical practice is that of constipation, from which 35% of patients suffer above the age of 65 years. Another typical symptom of the elderly is the incontinence, the different causes are being discussed. In advanced age, gastrointestinal hemorrhages are mostly occurring above the Treitz's ligament. Hemorrhages of the lower gastrointestinal tract occur mostly in the form of diverticle bleedings and those of angiodysplasias in the elderly. The diverticulosis is also a disease observed in over 50 per cent of patients above 70 years, but it is symptomatic in only part of the patients. When suspecting an inflammatory bowel disease in the elderly, the possibility of a mesenterial ischemia must always be considered as differential diagnosis. The classical chronic inflammatory bowel diseases can, however, also occur at advanced age. The colon carcinoma is one of the most frequent lethal causes in the Western countries 90 per cent of the cases of colon carcinoma are found in patients older than 50 years of age. Intensive attention is therefore required in this age group.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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