As the general population ages, it becomes increasingly important to understand the potential contribution of chronologic age to mortality after esophagectomy. Because this risk is poorly defined, we sought to determine whether extreme age (>80 years) is an independent risk factor after esophagectomy.
We analyzed a prospectively maintained, single-institution database of 858 consecutive patients who underwent esophagectomy between January 1996 and May 2005. Data evaluated included patient demographics, medical comorbidity, types of resections performed, length of stay, postoperative adverse events, and overall survival. We used univariate, multivariate, and Kaplan-Meier analysis to determine the influence of age on postoperative morbidity, in-hospital survival, and overall survival.
Of 858 patients, 31 (10 female, 21 male) were older than 80 years of age. Preliminary analysis indicated that patients younger than 50 years (n = 107) had significantly fewer comorbidities; these were excluded from the analysis. In the remaining 751 patients, the age older than 80 cohort was compared with patients aged 50 to 79. Patients aged 50 to 79 were grouped because of similar characteristics (length of stay, hospital death). There were no significant differences in comorbidities, types of resections, or postoperative complication type or severity between the two groups. Postoperative death, length of stay, and survival, however, were significantly worse in patients older than 80. In a logistic regression model controlling for comorbidity, age older than 80 was significantly associated with increased perioperative mortality (hazard-ratio, 3.9; p < 0.01).
Patients older than 80 years have increased mortality risk after esophagectomy, independent of comorbidity. Octogenarian status should be a consideration in the management of these patients.