Although colostomy closure is a commonly performed surgical procedure, there remains concern that the attendant risks may be misjudged, especially in the elderly. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the safety of performing colostomy closure and to define the factors that may influence morbidity and mortality in patients over the age of 70. Three hundred seven patients (178 males, 129 females) underwent colostomy closure over a 5-year period. The mean age was 52 years and 84 (27%) of the patients were 70 years or older. The indications for colostomy included diverticulitis, 115 (38%); malignancy, 47 (15%); perforation 35 (11%); trauma, 34 (11%); congenital anomalies, 26 (8%); obstruction, 13 (4%); bleeding, 6 (2%); colovesical fistulae, 6 (2%); polyps, 2 (0.7%); and miscellaneous, 23 (8%). An end colostomy was performed in 193 (63%) patients and a transverse loop colostomy in the remaining 114 (37%). There were no deaths. Complications occurred in 27 (9%) patients: 17 were directly related to colostomy closure (8 wound infections, 3 intraabdominal abscesses, 3 small bowel obstructions, 2 anastomotic strictures, and 1 anastomotic leak) while 10 were nonsurgical. Risk factors statistically associated with increased morbidity included age >70 years (13% versus 5%), end versus loop colostomy (10% versus 2%), an operative time %gt;2 hr, and estimated blood loss ≥500 ml (P < 0.05). ASA classification was only predicative of postoperative complications in patients over 70 years of age. We conclude that although colostomy closure can be performed without mortality, the increased morbidity associated with this procedure in patients 70 years or older necessitates careful preoperative assessment.
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