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Ralph T. Schär, Shpend Tashi, Mattia Branca, Nicole Söll, Debora Cipriani, Christa Schwarz, Claudio Pollo, Philippe Schucht, Christian T. Ulrich, Jürgen Beck, Werner J. Z’Graggen and Andreas Raabe

OBJECTIVE

With global aging, elective craniotomies are increasingly being performed in elderly patients. There is a paucity of prospective studies evaluating the impact of these procedures on the geriatric population. The goal of this study was to assess the safety of elective craniotomies for elderly patients in modern neurosurgery.

METHODS

For this cohort study, adult patients, who underwent elective craniotomies between November 1, 2011, and October 31, 2018, were allocated to 3 age groups (group 1, < 65 years [n = 1008], group 2, ≥ 65 to < 75 [n = 315], and group 3, ≥ 75 [n = 129]). Primary outcome was the 30-day mortality after craniotomy. Secondary outcomes included rate of delayed extubation (> 1 hour), need for emergency head CT scan and reoperation within 48 hours after surgery, length of postoperative intensive or intermediate care unit stay, hospital length of stay (LOS), and rate of discharge to home. Adjustment for American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status (ASA PS) class, estimated blood loss, and duration of surgery were analyzed as a comparison using multiple logistic regression. For significant differences a post hoc analysis was performed.

RESULTS

In total, 1452 patients (mean age 55.4 ± 14.7 years) were included. The overall mortality rate was 0.55% (n = 8), with no significant differences between groups (group 1: 0.5% [95% binominal CI 0.2%, 1.2%]; group 2: 0.3% [95% binominal CI 0.0%, 1.7%]; group 3: 1.6% [95% binominal CI 0.2%, 5.5%]). Deceased patients had a significantly higher ASA PS class (2.88 ± 0.35 vs 2.42 ± 0.62; difference 0.46 [95% CI 0.03, 0.89]; p = 0.036) and increased estimated blood loss (1444 ± 1973 ml vs 436 ± 545 ml [95% CI 618, 1398]; p <0.001). Significant differences were found in the rate of postoperative head CT scans (group 1: 6.65% [n = 67], group 2: 7.30% [n = 23], group 3: 15.50% [n = 20]; p = 0.006), LOS (group 1: median 5 days [IQR 4; 7 days], group 2: 5 days [IQR 4; 7 days], and group 3: 7 days [5; 9 days]; p = 0.001), and rate of discharge to home (group 1: 79.0% [n = 796], group 2: 72.0% [n = 227], and group 3: 44.2% [n = 57]; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Mortality following elective craniotomy was low in all age groups. Today, elective craniotomy for well-selected patients is safe, and for elderly patients, too. Elderly patients are more dependent on discharge to other hospitals and postacute care facilities after elective craniotomy.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01987648 (clinicaltrials.gov).