Background: Paraesophageal hernias (PEH) tend to occur in elderly patients and the assumed higher morbidity of PEH repair may dissuade clinicians from seeking a surgical solution. On the other hand, the mortality rate for emergency repairs shows a sevenfold increase compared to elective repairs. This analysis evaluates the complication rates after elective PEH repair in patients 80 years and older in comparison with younger patients.
Methods: In total, 3209 patients with PEH were recorded in the Herniamed Registry between September 1, 2009 and January 5, 2018. Using propensity score matching, 360 matched pairs were formed for comparative analysis of general, intraoperative, and postoperative complication rates in both groups.
Results: Our analysis revealed a disadvantage in general complications (6.7% vs. 14.2%; p = 0.002) for patients ≥ 80 years old. No significant differences were found between the two groups for intraoperative (4.7% vs. 5.8%, p = 0.627) and postoperative complications (2.2% vs. 2.8%, p = 0.815) or for complication-related reoperations (1.7% vs. 2.2%, p = 0.791).
Conclusions: Despite a higher risk of general complications, PEH repair in octogenarians is not in itself associated with increased rates of intraoperative and postoperative complications or associated reoperations. Therefore, PEH repair can be safely offered to elderly patients with symptomatic PEH, if general medical risk factors are controlled.
Keywords: Complications; Elderly patients; Matched-pair analysis; Paraesophageal hernia repair; Propensity score-based.