Increased morbidity of appendicitis with advancing age

Am Surg. 1995 Jan;61(1):40-4.


The early diagnosis of acute appendicitis before progression to gangrene or abscess formation is recognized as important to minimize morbidity from this common disease process. As our population ages, the challenge for expedient diagnosis and intervention in older age groups will become more significant. Prompted by recent unexpected complications occurring in elderly patients, we reviewed 100 consecutive admissions with the diagnosis of appendicitis to a tertiary Veterans Administration hospital. All patients were males and were arbitrarily divided into three age groups: less than 50, 50-70, and greater than 70 years of age. There were no patients less than 20 years old. Operative findings were classified as simple acute appendicitis, ruptured or perforated appendicitis, appendicitis associated with intra-abdominal abscess, and finally other when the operative diagnosis differed from appendicitis. Of the 37 patients less than 50 years of age, 28 were found to have simple acute appendicitis, making this by far the most common finding in this age group (P < 0.05). Only two of the 18 patients aged 50-70 with appendicitis demonstrated simple acute appendicitis, with the remainder having progressed to perforation or abscess formation (P < 0.05). Patients greater than 70 years of age were significantly more likely than any other age group to manifest appendicitis associated with intra-abdominal abscess (10 of 19, P < 0.05). Eight patients died in this series, six of whom were more than 70 years of age. In most cases, mortality was directly attributable to infectious complications of perforated appendicitis. There were no deaths in the under 50 age group.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Abscess* / complications
  • Abdominal Abscess* / diagnosis
  • Abdominal Abscess* / epidemiology
  • Abdominal Abscess* / surgery
  • Acute Disease
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Appendicitis* / complications
  • Appendicitis* / diagnosis
  • Appendicitis* / epidemiology
  • Appendicitis* / surgery
  • Cause of Death
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intestinal Perforation* / complications
  • Intestinal Perforation* / diagnosis
  • Intestinal Perforation* / epidemiology
  • Intestinal Perforation* / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Rupture, Spontaneous
  • Survival Rate