Principles of Geriatric Surgery

  • Mark R. Katlic


The world population is aging and the conditions that require cardiothoracic surgery – atherosclerosis, lung and esophageal cancer, degenerative valve disease, dysrhythmia, and others – increase in incidence with increasing age. What do we know about surgery in the elderly that will help us improve our care of these conditions? Six general principles are useful for teaching purposes. These include the fact that the clinical presentation of surgical problems may be subtle or different from that of the general population; the elderly handle stress well but not severe stress due to lack of reserve; preoperative preparation and attention to detail are crucial; when these are lacking, as in emergency surgery, risk dramatically increases; and the results of elective surgery in the elderly are good and do not support prejudice against advanced age. Cardiothoracic surgeons must become students of the physiologic changes that occur with aging and, guided by these few principles, apply this knowledge to daily clinical care. We owe it to our elders to become good geriatric surgeons and in so doing we will become better surgeons to patients of all ages.


Principles Reserve Preoperative Emergency Prejudice Ageism Complications 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Thoracic SurgeryGeisinger Wyoming Valley Medical CenterWilkes-BarreUSA

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