Referral patterns and the results of antireflux operations in patients more than sixty years of age

R. Allen, W. Rappaport, L. Hixson, R. Sampliner, T. Case, M. B. Fennerty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The role of antireflux operations in the elderly is ill-defined. Often, these patients are managed medically despite refactory symptoms for fear of surgical morbidity and mortality by referring physicians. This investigation was done to review the referral patterns and results of antireflux operations for patients more than 60 years old. The charts of all patients undergoing operation for reflux were reviewed during an eight year period from 1981 to 1989. One hundred and three patients underwent Nissen fundoplication. All patients had been treated with H2 blockers or antacids, or both, prior to referral for operation. Group 1 (N=43) consisted of all patients who were 60 years of age and group 2 (N=60), all patients less than 60 years of age. The mean age of those in group 1 was 70.6 years versus 43.7 years for those in group 2. The mean duration of symptoms was far greater in the elderly group versus the younger group (14.4 versus 4.1 years) (p<0.001). Twenty-eight patients in group 1 were referred for surgical treatment because of complications of reflux versus only four in group 2 (p<0.01) in whom intractability was the main indication for surgical treatment. The specific complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease that led to the referral of elderly patients for operation were stricture, bleeding, aspiration and Barrett's esophagus. There was one death and this occurred in a 46 year old woman who had a massive pulmonary embolism postoperatively. The mean duration of follow-up study was 5.1 years. Improvement in symptoms was noted by 37 patients in group 1 versus 56 in group 2. We conclude that elderly patients are most often referred for antireflux operations for complications of reflux versus younger patients in whom intractability is the most common indication. Earlier referral is warranted if reflux symptoms persist despite adequate medical therapy. Despite advanced esophageal disease, the results of antireflux operations are good, and surgical morbidity and mortality rates are low enough to warrant intervention in this group of patients, provided no medical contraindications exist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-362
Number of pages4
JournalSurgery Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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