Age Is But a Number: Damage Control Surgery Outcomes in Geriatric Emergency General Surgery

Stephen A. Iacono, Nicole J. Krumrei, Anna Niroomand, David O. Walls, Matthew Lissauer, Jennifer To, Christopher A. Butts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Damage control surgery (DCS) with temporary abdominal closure (TAC) is increasingly utilized in emergency general surgery (EGS). As the population ages, more geriatric patients (GP) are undergoing EGS operations. Concern exists for GP's ability to tolerate DCS. We hypothesize that DCS in GP does not increase morbidity or mortality and has similar rates of primary closure compared to non-geriatric patients (NGP). Methods: A retrospective chart review from 2014-2020 was conducted on all non-trauma EGS patients who underwent DCS with TAC. Demographics, admission lab values, fluid amounts, length of stay (LOS), timing of closure, post-operative complications and mortality were collected. GP were compared to NGP and results were analyzed using Chi square and Wilcox signed rank test. Results: Ninety-eight patients (n = 50, <65 y; n = 48, ≥65 y) met inclusion criteria. There was no significant difference in median number of operations (3 versus 2), time to primary closure (2.5 versus 3 d), hospital LOS (19 versus 17.5 d), ICU LOS (11 versus 8 d), rate of primary closure (66% versus 56%), post op ileus (44% versus 48%), abscess (14% versus 10%), need for surgery after closure (32% versus 19%), anastomotic dehiscence (16% versus 6%), or mortality (34% versus 42%). Average time until take back after index procedure did not vary significantly between young and elderly group (45.8 versus 38.5 h; P = 0.89). GP were more likely to have hypertension (83% versus 50%; P ≤ 0.05), atrial fibrillation (25% versus 4%; P ≤ 0.05) and lower median heart rate compared to NGP (90 versus 103; P ≤ 0.05). Conclusions: DCS with TAC in geriatric EGS patients achieves similar outcomes and mortality to younger patients. Indication, not age, should factor into the decision to perform DCS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-457
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


  • Damage control laparotomy
  • Damage control surgery
  • Emergency general surgery
  • Geriatric
  • Open abdomen
  • Temporary abdominal closure


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