Acute abdomen in the elderly. A peripheral general hospital experience.

Il Giornale di chirurgia

PubMedID: 19580715

Costamagna D, Pipitone Federico NS, Erra S, Tribocco M, Poncina F, Botto G, Deregibus P, Zullo A, Servente G, Durando R. Acute abdomen in the elderly. A peripheral general hospital experience. G Chir. 2009;30(6-7):315-22.
We reviewed our experience on 291 consecutive patients aged over 65 years who were operated on for acute abdomen during the period 2003-2007 at "Santo Spirito" Hospital of Casale Monferrato, a peripheral hospital in the Piedmont region. The mean age of the patients was 78 years and the male/female ratio was 149/142. A total of 126 patients (43%) had one or more associated disease. The most common causes for an emergency operation were mechanical bowel obstruction (45%), hollow viscus perforation (18%) and strangulated hernia (18%). 234 patients (80%) recovered and were free from major complications. The remaining 57 (20%) developed at least one major complication (including death). The 30-days postoperative deaths were 33 (11%). Nonlethal major complications were 24 (8%). The commonest complications were cardio-respiratory. Septic complications were 15. Total reoperations for surgical complications were 5. Mesenteric ischaemia and secondary peritonitis were the most important causes of fatal outcome (respectively 42 and 17% of mortality). We also reported high mortality among patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis (24%). Emergency surgery was relatively safe for the remaining groups of patients, with a complexive mortality ratio of 5.3%. We conclude that "acute abdomen" is still an appreciably frequent cause of death in the older age group. A high level of vigilance and early attention is therefore advocated. Anyway, excluding some severe conditions, the overall success of surgical interventions for abdominal emergency is satisfactory in the majority of older people. About the debated role of peripheral hospitals in the health care system, we conclude that the surgical treatment of the acute abdomen in the elderly is safe and feasible in the peripheral hospitals, and that these hospitals play a determining role in the management of old patients, especially in emergency.