Diagnostic procedures and health outcomes: Upper gastrointestinal tract investigations in the elderly

J. I. Westbrook*, R. L. Rushworth, M. I. Rob, G. L. Rubin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To examine the use of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy in people 65 years of age and over in New South Wales, and compare its use between geographic areas, sex and age groups. Also, to investigate the relationship between endoscopy use and peptic ulcer mortality. Design: A retrospective review of upper gastrointestinal tract (GIT) endoscopy hospital separation data for NSW from 1986 to 1989-1990 and peptic ulcer mortality data from 1979 to 1989. Main outcome measures: Rates per 1000 population aged 65 years and over were calculated for upper GIT endoscopy for each of the four-year age groups and by sex. Peptic ulcer and other digestive system disease rates for endoscopy patients were determined. Correlations between hospital standardised separation rates for endoscopy and standardised mortality rates for gastric cancer and peptic ulcers were calculated. Age and sex standardised death rates were calculated for each year between 1979 and 1989, and changes in death rates over time were determined by regression analysis. Results: The rate of endoscopies increased significantly (P < 0.001) over the period 1986 to 1989-1990, with the highest rate and greatest increase occurring in patients aged 70 years and over. Men had significantly higher endoscopy rates than women (P < 0.001). Geographic variations in the use of endoscopy were found and were not explained by geographic differences in the proportion of peptic ulcers diagnosed, deaths from peptic ulcers or malignant neoplasms. Despite the increase in endoscopies performed, there was no corresponding significant increase in the rate of peptic ulcers detected. Between 1979 and 1989 peptic ulcer mortality rates for women over 74 years of age increased significantly (P < 0.05); the rate for men did not change. Conclusion: Many endoscopies are performed in people aged 65 years and over in NSW and there has been a substantial increase in endoscopy rates in recent years. While the increase in upper GIT endoscopy may have resulted in a number of health benefits, it does not appear to have resulted in a reduction in peptic ulcer related mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-245
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Diagnostic procedures and health outcomes: Upper gastrointestinal tract investigations in the elderly'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this