Although the results of oesophageal resection for benign and malignant disease are well documented, the risk of operative death and long term survival in patients over the age of 70 is not well defined. The outcome has been reviewed for 46 patients (23 male, 23 female) aged 70 years or more (mean 74 years) undergoing oesophageal resection during a period of seven years; 16 patients were 75 years or over. All resections were performed with the EEA stapler, except for one cervical anastomosis that was stitched by hand. In 42 patients resection was for malignancy. Six patients died within 30 days of operation or during the initial hospital stay, giving an operative mortality of 13%. Only one of the 16 patients aged 75 years or more died. Cardiopulmonary complications accounted for most of the operative deaths. Patients were scored retrospectively by a multifactual risk factor. Patients who left hospital had a mean preoperative score of 3.66, compared with 15.2 for those who died. Use of such a score may help to improve selection for surgery in this age group. It is concluded that oesophagogastrectomy may be performed in selected patients over the age of 70 years with acceptable mortality, morbidity, and length of hospital stay.
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