FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors who have thyroid
surgery are much more likely than younger patients to suffer
serious heart, lung and infection-related complications, according
to a new study.
The findings challenge the widely held belief that thyroid
surgery (thyroidectomy) is a low-risk operation for older patients,
the researchers said.
They analyzed data from 7,915 patients in the United States who
had all or part of their thyroid gland removed. The risk of
postoperative complications was five times higher in patients 80
and older and two times higher in patients ages 65 to 79, compared
to younger patients.
The study appears in the May issue of the
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The number of elderly patients in the United States undergoing
thyroid operations is increasing due to an aging population, and
rising rates of thyroid cancer and benign thyroid conditions, the
"It is important to understand that our study emphasizes the importance of the entire medical system that cares for these elderly patients, not just the surgeon," study lead author Dr. Raymon Grogan, of the University of Chicago, said in a journal news release.
"In our study, elderly patients were susceptible to life-threatening, nonsurgical complications. Thus it is important that an elderly patient undergoing thyroid surgery have an experienced team of primary care physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who handle these types of surgeries on a routine, daily basis," Grogan said.
The American Thyroid Association has more about