Never giving up: outcomes and presentation of emergency general surgery in geriatric octogenarian and nonagenarian patients

Adil A. Shah, Syed Nabeel Zafar, Lisa M. Kodadek, Cheryl K. Zogg, Alyssa B. Chapital, Aftab Iqbal, Wendy R. Greene, Edward E. Cornwell, Joaquim Havens, Stephanie Nitzschke, Zara Cooper, Ali Salim, Adil H. Haider

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Background Aging of the population necessitates consideration of the increasing number of older adults requiring emergency care. The objective of this study was to compare outcomes and presentation of octogenarian and/or nonagenarian emergency general surgery (EGS) patients with younger adults. Methods Based on a standardized definition of EGS, patients in the 2007 to 2011 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project-Nationwide Inpatient Sample were queried for primary EGS diagnoses. Included patients were categorized into older (≥80 years) vs younger (<80 years) adults based on a marked increase in mortality around aged 80 years. Using propensity scores, risk-adjusted differences in major morbidity, mortality, length of stay (LOS), and cost were compared. Results Of 3,707,465 included patients, 17.2% (n = 637,588) were ≥80 years. Relative to younger adults, older patients most frequently presented for gastrointestinal-bleeding (odds ratio [95% confidence intervals]: 2.81 [2.79 to 2.82]) and gastrostomy care (2.46 [2.39 to 2.53]). Despite higher odds of mortality (1.67 [1.63 to 1.69]), older adults exhibited lower risk-adjusted odds of morbidity (.87 [.86 to.88]), shorter LOS (4.50 vs 5.14 days), and lower total hospital costs ($10,700 vs $12,500). Conclusions Octogenarian and/or nonagenarian patients present differently than younger adults. Reductions in complications, LOS, and cost among surviving older adults allude to a “survivorship tendency” to never give up, despite collectively higher mortality risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-220.e3
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Emergency general surgery
  • Geriatric
  • Nonagenarian
  • Octogenarian
  • Outcomes


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