What Are Risky Procedures for Seniors?

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Seniors should avoid risky procedures for older adults.

Surgeries are taxing on bodies at any age.

Whether inpatient or outpatient procedures, they involve significant care and recovery.

Even so, younger bodies are often better able to handle and heal from surgeries.

According to a recent Considerable article titled “These 10 surgeries are considered “uniquely high risk” for older adults,” seniors are at higher risk for complications from surgeries.

The article highlighted a study published in JAMA Surgery where researches reviewed admission data from patients ages 65 or older to create a list of 277 risky procedures for this population.

Of the 277 surgeries, 10 were considered especially high risk.

What are they?

Adrenal gland removal (adrenalectomy).

In this procedure, one or both adrenal glands are removed.

These adrenal glands produce important hormones in the body.

Tumors in these glands can produce greater levels of these hormones and require the removal of the glands.

Although recovery from the procedure typically takes between two and six weeks, there are significant risks associated with the surgery.

Risks associated with this surgery include blood clots, high blood pressure, and infections.

Plaque buildup removal from carotid arteries (carotid endarterectomy).

The carotid artery is an important artery in the neck.

Blockages can lead to strokes.

Although the plaque buildup may need to be removed, the risks of the surgery include clotting, strokes, and death.

To minimize this risk, many doctors will prescribe anti-clotting medication prior to and after the surgery.

Arm blood-vessel replacement (peripheral vascular bypass surgery).

This surgery is typically used when an artery becomes blocked or narrowed.

The damaged blood vessel is replaced by a healthy blood vessel from the body of the patient or a synthetic one.

This is a risky procedure for older adults because it can lead to irregular heartbeat, infection, and death.

Abdominal vein resection or replacement.

Occasionally, blood vessels can cause injuries to the abdomen.

When this happens, the tissue  may need to be either replaced or removed.

This is considered a risky procedure because the surgery can lead to infection, excess bleeding, and pulmonary embolism.

Varicose vein removal.

Varicose veins result from malfunctioning valves in veins in the legs.

Often these result in blood clots, pain, or bleeding in seniors.

Although varicose vein removal can prove helpful, it also carries with it the potential for complications like heavy bleeding, infection, or nerve damage.

High gastric bypass.

Being overweight or obese has been connected to poor health at any age, but may prove particularly problematic for older adults.

Although a gastric bypass changes how the stomach and small intestine process food, many people choose this procedure to help lose weight.

It is considered a risky procedure because of its possible complications.

These include perforation of the intestine or stomach, malnutrition, and dumping syndrome.

What is dumping syndrome?

Dumping syndrome occurs when the stomach pouch moves food directly into the small intestine prior to being digested.

Proctopexy (rectal prolapse surgery).

This surgery is designed to correct obstructed bowel movements, stool leakage, or fecal incontinence.

The purpose of the surgery to realign the rectum to its proper positioning.

It is considered a high risk procedure because it can narrow the anal opening, develop or worsen constipation, and cause damage to nearby organs and nerves.

Bile duct excision.

This surgery involves the removal of a tumor when it is blocking the flow of bile to the bile duct.

Risks of this surgery include jaundice, nausea, and high fevers of up to 101° Fahrenheit.

A urinary reconstruction technique.

Sometimes doctors recommend the removal of the bladder due to this organ no longer functioning or because of cancer.

Although this procedure involves the creation of a new path for urine to be expelled from the body, it is considered a risky procedure because it can cause urine to back up in the kidneys.

When this happens, it can lead to stone formation, infections, or organ damage.

Ureter repair.

When a ureter is injured and scar tissues forms, it may be necessary to repair the damage.

Blood clots, chest pain, and trouble urinating are complications of this surgery.

Although many of these surgeries may be beneficial or necessary for aging adults, it is helpful to discuss and consider the complications associated with these risky procedures.

Reference: Considerable (May 1, 2021) “These 10 surgeries are considered “uniquely high risk” for older adults”

Suggested Key Terms: Senior Health, Elder Care

 

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