Postoperative complications in individuals aged 70 and over undergoing elective surgery for colorectal cancer

Colorectal Dis. 2017 Sep;19(9):O329-O338. doi: 10.1111/codi.13821.


Aim: This study aims to describe the nature, incidence, severity and outcomes of in-hospital postoperative complications (POCs) in older patients undergoing elective surgery for colorectal cancer.

Method: Patients ≥ 70 years old were identified from a prospectively collected database (2009-2015) focusing on the implementation of geriatric screening and assessment in patients with cancer. Medical and surgical POCs were retrieved retrospectively from the medical records, and the severity of the POCs was graded by the Clavien-Dindo (CD) grading system. The following outcomes were analysed comparing patients with and without CD ≥ 2 and CD ≥ 3 POCs: length of stay (LOS), transfer to the intensive care unit, 30-day readmission rates, 30-day and 1-year mortality.

Results: In the 190 patients included, medical POCs (40.5%) were more frequent than surgical POCs (17.9%), and 37.9% experienced CD ≥ 2 POCs. The most common medical POCs were infections (26.8%), transient confusion or altered mental function (12.1%), cardiac arrhythmia (4.7%), and ileus/gastroparesis/prolonged recovery of transit (4.7%). The most common surgical POCs were surgical site infections (12.1%), wound dehiscence/bleeding (4.7%), anastomotic leak (3.7%) and surgical site bleeding (3.7%). The reoperation rate was 7.9%. CD ≥ 2 POCs led to 11 intensive care unit admissions and increased median postoperative LOS by 114% (P < 0.0001 for both), but did not significantly alter 30-day readmission and 30-day and 1-year mortality rates. CD ≥ 3 POCs increased LOS by 162% (P < 0.0001) and showed an increased 1-year mortality (P = 0.07).

Conclusion: This study shows that in-hospital medical and surgical complications after surgery for colorectal cancer in patients ≥ 70 years old are frequent and that complications lead to less favourable outcomes.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer; elderly; outcomes; postoperative complications; surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies