Background: Major surgical procedures are performed with increasing frequency in elderly persons, but the impact of age on resource use and outcomes is uncertain.
Objective: To evaluate the influence of age on perioperative cardiac and noncardiac complications and length of stay in patients undergoing noncardiac surgery.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Urban academic medical center.
Patients: Consecutive sample of 4315 patients 50 years of age or older who underwent nonemergent major noncardiac procedures.
Measurements: Major perioperative complications (cardiac and noncardiac), in-hospital mortality, and length of stay.
Results: Major perioperative complications occurred in 4.3% (44 of 1015) of patients 59 years of age or younger, 5.7% (93 of 1646) of patients 60 to 69 years of age, 9.6% (129 of 1341) of patients 70 to 79 years of age, and 12.5% (39 of 313) of patients 80 years of age or older (P < 0.001). In-hospital mortality was significantly higher in patients 80 years of age or older than in those younger than 80 years of age (0.7% vs. 2.6%, respectively). Multivariate analyses indicated an increased odds ratio for perioperative complications or in-hospital mortality in patients 70 to 79 years of age (1.8 [95% CI, 1.2 to 2.7]) and those 80 years of age or older (OR, 2.1 [CI, 1.2 to 3.6]) compared with patients 50 to 59 years of age. Patients 80 years of age or older stayed an average of 1 day more in the hospital, after adjustment for other clinical data (P = 0.001).
Conclusions: Elderly patients had a higher rate of major perioperative complications and mortality after noncardiac surgery and a longer length of stay, but even in patients 80 years of age or older, mortality was low.