Scoliosis surgery at 70 years old: Is it safe? 5 things to know

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A new study published in Clinical Spine Surgery examines acute complications among spinal deformity surgical patients who are 70 years old or older.

The researchers examined 20 patients who were 76.6 years old on average and followed them for six months. The patients underwent instrumented posterior spinal fusions and the same surgeon performed all procedures. The researchers found:

 

1. The patients reported four comorbidities on average and their American Society of Anesthesiologists score was 2.7.

 

2. The weight comorbidity index was low at 1.05 with a range of 0 to four.

 

3. The patients underwent at least six-level fusions; the average fusion was 10.75 levels with a range of six to 15 levels fused.

 

4. There were complications in 95 percent of the patients; nine of those complications were major in seven patients.

 

5. The article authors concluded spinal deformity surgery poses risks regardless of the age, however the risks are “believed to increase” as patients get older and the procedure becomes more complex.

 

“Our results show that, although the risks of major complications are significant, the risk is not greater than in a young population undergoing the similar procedures,” concluded the study authors. “We feel that age alone should not be a contraindication for patients in their eighth decade of life who are incapacitated by their painful spinal deformity.”

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