• Vol. 48 No. 11, 382–385
  • 15 November 2019

The Elderly Emergency Laparotomy Patient – More Than Just the Operation



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The elderly patient presenting with an acute surgical abdomen or bowel obstruction has become a common and challenging situation. These patients bring comorbidity and frailty that necessitate appropriate risk assessment and comprehensive perioperative management. Robust communication is required between patients, families and health professions. The Australia and New Zealand Emergency Laparotomy Audit-Quality Improvement (ANZELA-QI) study is based on the United Kingdom’s National Emergency Laparotomy Audit (NELA) and will gather large scale data, providing hospital-level information to enable clinicians to reduce variation in management. Successful management of the elderly laparotomy patient requires close coordination between surgeons, anaesthetists and physicians. The ANZELA-QI study will help establish the role of collaborative models of care and the need for perioperative care teams.

The emergency laparotomy is an operation of the elderly patient with a rise in mortality as age increases. Half of patients in the United Kingdom (UK) requiring an emergency laparotomy are over 70 years old and of these, 20% will die within 30 days.

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