BACKGROUND: Elderly patients admitted emergently for ventral hernia may have high rates of complications, including morbidity and mortality. The goal of this study was to retrospectively assess risk factors for in-hospital mortality for elderly patients admitted emergently with a primary diagnosis of ventral hernia. METHODS: Elderly patients with ventral hernia that required emergency admission were analyzed using the National Inpatient Sample database, 2005-2014. Demographics, clinical data, and outcomes were collected. The relationship between mortality and the predictors was assessed using a stratified analysis, multivariable logistic regression model, and multivariable generalized additive model. RESULTS: A total of 33,700 elderly patients were analyzed. The mean (SD) age for males and females was 75 (7.25) and 76.25 (7.75) years, respectively (p<0.001). Approximately 70% of the patients were females. The mean (SD) hospital length of stay (HLOS) was 6.3 (6.5) and 11.6 (13.7) days in survived vs. deceased patients (p<0.001), respectively. Gangrene was present in 1.5% of survivors vs. 5.6% of deceased (p<0.001) patients. Intestinal obstruction was observed in 78% of survivors vs. 88% of deceased patients (p<0.001). Of the 8,554 cases managed non-operatively, 2.1% died. In contrast, in the 25,163 patients who were operated upon, the mortality rate was 2.9%. The mean (SD) HLOS was 7.39 (7.41) days in patients who had an operation vs. 3.82 (3.48) days in those who did not (p<0.0001). Time to operation was 1.12 (1.97) days in survivors vs. 1.81 (3.02) days in deceased patients (p<0.001). In the final multivariable logistic regression model for patients who underwent an operation, delayed operation, elderly male, frailty, invasive diagnostic procedures and presence of gangrene or obstruction were the main risk factors for mortality. In the final model for patients who did not have an operation, age, frailty, presence of gangrene or obstruction and HLOS were the main risk factors for mortality. CONCLUSION: A delayed operation in elderly males and frail patients with intestinal obstruction or gangrene admitted emergently due to ventral hernia significantly increases mortality in this setting.
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