With the advancement of medicine and more common knowledge of how to remain healthy, more of our population is living longer.
At Rocky Mountain Brain & Spine Institute, I am commonly asked by older patients, “Am I too old for surgery?”
King Tut became pharaoh around the age of 10, and died when he was 19.
The older population in the United States has been trending upward. In the year 1900, people older than 65 made up just 4.1% of the total population. In 1990, they were 12.6%. In 2010 they were 13%. In the year 2016, Baby Boomers first started turning 70 years old.
As we get older, neurosurgeons have had to advance techniques, including anesthesia and critical care to keep this set of patients safe. A recent article was published in the journal, Neurosurgery, looking at outcomes in patients older than 70. Overall survival for any elective neurosurgery procedure was about 86%, and about 84% of these patients were able to be discharged back to their usual place of residence.
This data suggests that surgery can be safe for older adults. We of course analyze each patient differently and take into account their medical problems. We can give a pretty accurate stratification of risk of surgery to most patients.
Age no longer is a primary independent factor for determining if a patient can undergo brain or spine surgery.