Current outcome of esophagectomy in the very elderly: Experience of a German high-volume center

Michael Schweigert, Norbert Solymosi, Attila Dubecz, Rudolf J. Stadlhuber, Dietmar Ofner, Hubert J. Stein

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Operative management of esophageal carcinoma in the very elderly is still controversially discussed. It is not yet decided whether the risk warrants the procedure. The aim of this study is to analyze the outcome of esophagectomy for esophageal cancer in the very elderly. Factors influencing the clinical course and determining the outcome are identified. A retrospective study 292 consecutive cases of esophagectomy for nonmetastatic esophageal cancer at a German tertiary referral hospital between 2004 and 2011 were reviewed. Two age groups (75 years or older and younger than 75 years) were formed. The mean age was 63 years. Altogether 45 patients were 75 years or older. There were no significant differences in American Society of Anesthesiologists score, operative procedure, or in the frequency of anastomotic leakage between the age groups. However, very elderly patients with anastomotic leak had an eight times higher risk for fatal outcome than the very elderly without leak (odds ratio [OR], 8.54; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0 to 112.18; P = 0.025). Moreover, the odds for postoperative death were five times higher in very elderly patients with leak than in younger patients sustaining anastomotic leakage (OR, 5.67; 95% CI, 0.67 to 73.83; P = 0.046). In general, the very elderly had a three times higher risk for a fatal outcome (OR, 3.30; 95% CI, 1.37 to 7.86; P = 0.008). In-hospital mortality of the very elderly was 11 out of 45 compared with 8 per cent (20 of 247) in the younger group. Fatal outcome was more often caused by medical (seven) than by surgical complications (four cases). The remaining 34 patients recovered well. Very elderly patients undergoing esophagectomy have no elevated risk for occurrence of surgical complications, whereas the mortality of these complications is much higher. Improved outcome is achievable by timely management of postoperative surgical as well as medical complications. Notwithstanding the increased mortality, esophagectomy should be considered in thoroughly selected very elderly patients with curable esophageal carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)754-763
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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    Schweigert, M., Solymosi, N., Dubecz, A., Stadlhuber, R. J., Ofner, D., & Stein, H. J. (2013). Current outcome of esophagectomy in the very elderly: Experience of a German high-volume center. American Surgeon, 79(8), 754-763.