Outcomes| Volume 171, ISSUE 5, P1365-1372, May 2022

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Outcomes of surgery in patients 90 years of age and older: A retrospective cohort study

Published:January 22, 2022DOI:



      Important trade-offs of risks versus benefits of surgery need to be discussed with older adults, in particular nonagenarians who are candidates for surgery. Data that examine specific outcomes of surgical interventions in this age group are sparse. We aimed to evaluate the clinical presentation and postoperative outcomes of nonagenarians undergoing surgery.


      A retrospective cohort study of consecutive patients 90 years of age and older who underwent surgery between 2014 and 2018 in general surgical ward of a large-volume academic center. Subgroups were designed according to type of surgery (elective versus emergency surgery) and diagnosis (oncology versus non-oncology).
      Preoperative assessments included Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool, Norton Scale, Morse Scale, Katz, and Lawton-Brody indices.


      A total of 198 nonagenarians underwent surgery, of which 38% were elective and 62% were emergency surgery. Median follow-up was 26 months. More patients in the elective group compared with the emergency group had oncology diagnoses (42.1% and 14.7%, respectively, P < .001), resided preoperatively at home (93.4% and 77.9%, respectively, P = .003), and were functionally independent (71.1% and 41.8%, respectively, P = .0005). Postoperative 30-day mortality frequency was 6.6% in the elective group and 39.3% in the emergency group (P < .001). Two-year survival frequency of non-oncology group was 72.7% in elective surgeries and 40.6% in emergency surgeries (P < .001). Two-year survival frequency of oncology group was 37% in elective surgeries and 27.8% in emergency surgeries (P = .12).


      Elective surgery in adults aged 90 and above can be safely performed with acceptable 2-year outcomes. Emergency surgery for oncology diagnoses carries dismal outcomes, so palliative approaches should be considered.
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