Gallstone disease in the elderly: are older patients managed differently?
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BACKGROUND: This study aimed to describe the differences in the management of symptomatic gallstone disease within different elderly groups and to evaluate the association between older age and surgical treatment. METHODS: This single-institution retrospective chart review included all patients 65 years old and older with an initial hospital visit for symptomatic gallstone disease between 2004 and 2008. The patients were stratified into three age groups: group 1 (age, 65-74 years), group 2 (age, 75-84 years), and group 3 (age, ≥ 85 years). Patient characteristics and presentation at the initial hospital visit were described as well as the surgical and other nonoperative interventions occurring over a 1-year follow-up period. Logistic regression was performed to assess the effect of age on surgery. RESULTS: Data from 397 patient charts were assessed: 182 in group 1, 160 in group 2, and 55 in group 3. Cholecystitis was the most common diagnosis in groups 1 and 2, whereas cholangitis was the most common diagnosis in group 3. Elective admissions to a surgical ward were most common in group 1, whereas urgent admissions to a medical ward were most common in group 3. Elective surgery was performed at the first visit for 50.6% of group 1, for 25.6% of group 2, and for 12.7% of group 3, with a 1-year cumulative incidence of surgery of 87.4% in group 1, 63.5% in group 2, and 22.1% in group 3. Inversely, cholecystostomy and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) were used more often in the older groups. Increased age (odds ratio [OR], 0.87; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.84-0.91) and the Charlson Comorbidity Index (OR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.69-0.94) were significantly associated with a decreased probability of undergoing surgery within 1 year after the initial visit. CONCLUSION: Even in the elderly population, older patients presented more frequently with severe disease and underwent more conservative treatment strategies. Older age was independently associated with a lower likelihood of surgery.
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