Foot and Ankle Surgery: Considerations for the Geriatric Patient
The growing number of lower-extremity abnormalities that are seen in inpatient and outpatient settings has paralleled the increased number of elderly in the population. Foot and ankle deformities, disorders, and arthritis, which are not manifested until late in life, have become more common as more individuals attain longer lifespans. Although conservative therapies are a priority when addressing the geriatric population, surgical options may be overlooked secondary to a misunderstanding of their ability to overcome perioperative management. Advanced minimally invasive surgical procedures for the foot and ankle have decreased the complications associated with foot surgery, making surgical intervention a viable option for many of the elderly. The newer procedures do not, however, minimize strict perioperative management, including pharmacological and nutritional assessment, and cardiopulmonary precautions. Outpatient surgical intervention may effectively address many ongoing problems associated with pain, decreased ambulation, and decreased quality of life. Current techniques in joint reconstruction in the forefoot and midfoot allow weight bearing from the day of surgery. Most hindfoot and ankle surgeries now permit minimal bone resection and incision through arthroscopy, resulting in improved muscle and tendon repair and early weight bearing. The changes in surgical approaches for the geriatric foot have permitted more effective and rapid intervention in problems affecting ambulation and quality of life in our aged population.