Age not a major factor for doing surgery, study finds

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 25, 2006

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Researchers say patients should be less concerned about their surgeon's age and more focused on other factors, such as surgical volume, when making a choice.

The findings, published in the September Annals of Surgery, show that for some complex cardiovascular and cancer surgical procedures, surgeons older than 60 with low surgical volumes had higher patient mortality rates than did younger surgeons. But older surgeons who continued to maintain higher surgical caseloads were found to have comparable outcomes to colleagues age 41 to 50.

Researchers said the study dispels the belief that younger, less experienced surgeons are more likely to have poor surgical outcomes. Instead, they said surgeons age 40 and younger had similar patient mortality rates to those of more experienced surgeons for the eight surgical procedures studied.

"This study's results should be very encouraging not only for patients but also for younger and older surgeons whose operative skills may previously have been the subject of scrutiny," lead author Jennifer F. Waljee, MD, MPH, general surgery resident in the Dept. of Surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a statement. "The bottom line is that for most procedures, the age of the surgeon is not an important predictor of operative risk for a patient."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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