Published online Jul 27, 2013. doi: 10.4240/wjgs.v5.i7.216
Revised: June 18, 2013
Accepted: June 28, 2013
Published online: July 27, 2013
AIM: To determine the morbidity and mortality associated with emergency laparotomy for a clinically acute abdomen in patients aged ≥ 80 years.
METHODS: In this retrospective audit, octogenarians undergoing emergency laparotomy between 1st January 2005 and 1st January 2010 were identified using the Galaxy Theatre System. Patients undergoing abdominal surgery through groin crease incisions or Lanz or Gridiron incisions were excluded. Also simple appendectomies were excluded. All patients were aged 80 years or more at the time of their surgery. Data were obtained using casenote review with a standardised proforma to determine patient age, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) grade, indications for surgery, early (within 30 d) and late (after 30 d) complications, mortality and length of stay. Data were inserted into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and analysed.
RESULTS: One hundred patients were identified from the database (Galaxy) as having undergone emergency laparotomy. Of those, 55 underwent the procedure for intestinal procedures and 37 for secondary peritonitis. There was a 2:1 female predominance; average age 85 and ASA grade 3. Bowel resection was required in 51 out of the 100 patients and 22 (43%) died. Other procedures included appendicectomy, adhesiolysis, repair of AAA graft leak and colostomies for the pathological process resulting in an acute abdomen. Twelve of 100 patients (12%) suffered intra-operative complications, including splenic and bowel-serosal tears. Seventy patients (70%) had postoperative complications including myocardial infarction, wound infection, haematoma and sepsis. Overall mortality was 45/100 patients (45%). The major causes of death were sepsis (19/45 patients, 42%), underlying cancer (13/45 patients, 29%); with others including bowel obstruction (2/45 patients, 4%), myocardial and intestinal ischaemia and dementia.
CONCLUSION: Emergency laparotomy in octogenarians carries a significant morbidity and mortality. In particular, surgery requiring bowel resection has higher mortality than without resection.
Core tip: Aging is associated with an increase in operative and anaesthetic risk during emergency laparotomy. Literature addressing the outcomes following emergency laparotomy in the elderly is limited. The morbidity and mortality rates in this subgroup of patients were explored, and in our study we determined the mortality rate to be 45%.