Outcome after anaesthesia and emergency
surgery in patients over 100 years old

Konttinen N, Rosenberg PH.
Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine,
Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.
Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2006 Mar;50(3):283-9.


Background: Deteriorated organ function and reduced stress response in very old patients may cause post-operative morbidity and mortality. We wanted to identify immediate and longer-term outcome after anaesthesia and surgery in the oldest of the old patients. Methods: We analysed retrospectively anaesthesia and hospital records of patients who were over 100 years old when undergoing major emergency surgery in our hospital during 1990-2004. Results: Altogether, 12 patients (median age 101 years) underwent 14 operations (nine for hip fracture, four for lower extremity circulatory problems and one for peritonitis). During anaesthesia, invasive arterial pressure was monitored in eight patients while central venous pressure (CVP) was monitored in only one patient. Spinal anaesthesia with bupivacaine was given as a continuous technique in six and as single-shot spinal anaesthesia in five cases. Both spinal (11) and general (3) anaesthesias were characterized by marked drops in arterial pressure. Haemodynamics was managed with intravenous (i.v.) fluids and vasopressors. Five patients had post-operative delirium. Mortality at 30 days, 6 months and 1 year was 25%, 42% and 50%, respectively. Within 15 days of the operation, three patients had died (pneumonia, cerebral infarction and myocardial infarction). Nine patients returned home and six of them lived in their pre-operative mental and physical state for at least a year. Conclusion: Independently of the anaesthetic method, marked drops in blood pressure occurred, requiring pharmacological intervention. We assume that in most of the patients, hypovolaemia explains the intra-operative haemodynamic instability. A 25%, 30-day mortality may be regarded as acceptable and, overall, these very old patients tolerated emergency surgery quite well.
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