Background: The surgical literature perceives that the elderly cohort of Crohn's patients may have increased risk with surgery. Methods: A retrospective review and prospective database analysis of all patients with histologically proven Crohn's disease who had a laparotomy at a single Sydney teaching hospital were performed. The last laparotomy of each patient was included in the analysis for morbidity and mortality to assess whether an older cohort was at an increased risk. Results: A total of 156 patients had 298 laparotomies for histopathologically proven Crohn's disease. The frequency distribution of age at last laparotomy was bimodal, and the statistically determined cut-off age between younger and older cohorts was 55 years. Thirty-three patients were older than 55 years. There was no difference in duration of symptoms before first diagnosis (older, 17 months vs younger, 25 months), previous number of Crohn's operations (42.4 vs 39.8%), or duration of known Crohn's disease. Isolated large bowel disease was more common in the elderly cohort (42.4 vs 18.7%, χ2 = 8.09, P < 0.01). Small bowel and ileocaecal resections were more common in the younger cohort (72.4 vs 51.6%, χ2 = 5.19, P < 0.025). There was one death in each cohort (overall mortality 1.3%) and anastomotic leak rates (defined as the number of leaks per number of patients with anastomoses), were 4.3% (older) vs 5.3% (younger) despite frank sepsis present in 21.2% of all subjects at the time of surgery. The older group had more cardiac (18.2 vs 0.8%, P < 0.001) and respiratory complications (18.2 vs 2.4%, p = 0.0003) and a longer mean but not median postoperative hospital admission. Conclusions: In conclusion, clinical features and presentation are similar in the older and younger Crohn's patients having a laparotomy. However, in the older patient there is a greater likelihood of large bowel disease, ileocaecal resection is done less commonly, there is a higher risk of minor cardiopulmonary postoperative complications, but with similar mortality and anastomotic leak rates to the younger patient.
- Crohn's disease