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Spine Surgery Safely Performed in Some Very Elderly Patients

In a carefully defined cohort of patients 80 years and older, 20 percent had perioperative complications

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) — In a carefully defined cohort of patients aged 80 years and older undergoing spine surgery, perioperative complications occurred in 20 percent, according to a study published online Dec. 17 in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

Takamasa Watanabe, M.D., from Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, and colleagues performed a multicenter prospective cohort study involving 270 consecutively enrolled patients aged 80 years and older who underwent spine surgery during 2017. Patients with infection, trauma, or tumor were excluded from the cohort. The authors sought to determine the prevalence of perioperative complications and associated risk factors.

The researchers found that 20.0, 8.1, and 14.8 percent of patients had perioperative, surgical site, and minor systemic complications, respectively. There were no major systemic complications reported. The reoperation rate was low at 4.1 percent. In multivariate analysis, factors associated with risk for minor systemic complications included the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status, instrumentation surgery, and operation time longer than 180 minutes.

“No severe complications were observed in our study; hence, spine surgery for elderly patients can be safely performed,” the authors write. “Therefore, surgeons should not be reluctant to perform spine surgery on the basis of the advanced age of the patient.”

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