Never giving up: Outcomes and presentation of emergency general surgery in geriatric octogenarian and nonagenarian patients

Document Type



General Surgery


Background: Aging of the population necessitates consideration of the increasing number of older adults requiring emergency care. The objective of this study was to compare outcomes and presentation of octogenarian and/or nonagenarian emergency general surgery (EGS) patients with younger adults.
Methods: Based on a standardized definition of EGS, patients in the 2007 to 2011 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project-Nationwide Inpatient Sample were queried for primary EGS diagnoses. Included patients were categorized into older (≥80 years) vs younger (<80 >years) adults based on a marked increase in mortality around aged 80 years. Using propensity scores, risk-adjusted differences in major morbidity, mortality, length of stay (LOS), and cost were compared.
Results: Of 3,707,465 included patients, 17.2% (n = 637,588) were ≥80 years. Relative to younger adults, older patients most frequently presented for gastrointestinal-bleeding (odds ratio [95% confidence intervals]: 2.81 [2.79 to 2.82]) and gastrostomy care (2.46 [2.39 to 2.53]). Despite higher odds of mortality (1.67 [1.63 to 1.69]), older adults exhibited lower risk-adjusted odds of morbidity (.87 [.86 to .88]), shorter LOS (4.50 vs 5.14 days), and lower total hospital costs ($10,700 vs $12,500).
Conclusions: Octogenarian and/or nonagenarian patients present differently than younger adults. Reductions in complications, LOS, and cost among surviving older adults allude to a "survivorship tendency" to never give up, despite collectively higher mortality risk.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University


The American Journal of Surgery