The liver is the organ most commonly injured during blunt abdominal trauma. As our society ages, emergency surgery for active elderly patients increases, but data on aggressive emergency hepatic resection remain scarce in the literature. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the elderly (70 years of age or older) can tolerate major liver injury and subsequent hepatic resection. We investigated 100 patients who were treated by an anatomic resection for severe blunt liver trauma (29 elderly patients who were 70 years of age or older and 71 young patients who were younger than 70 years of age) in a retrospective study. The elderly patients were more severely injured as demonstrated by a higher Injury Severity Score, a lower Glascow Coma Scale, and lower survival (80.3% vs. 65.5%; p < 0.05). The total number of associated injuries was greater in elderly patients. Motor vehicle accidents were responsible for 71.8% of the injuries in the young group, and the predominant mechanism in the elderly patients was also motor vehicle accidents (51.7%). The 71 anatomic hepatic resections performed on the young patients included right hemihepatectomy (n = 45), left lateral segment resection (n = 14), bisegmentectomy (n = 5), and others. The 29 anatomic hepatic resections performed for the elderly patients were right hemihepatectomy (n = 15), left lateral segment resection (n = 5), left hemihepatectomy (n = 4), and others. Pneumonia, subphrenic abscess, and urosepsis occurred at a significantly higher frequency in elderly patients than in young patients. Our data clearly indicated that (1) the mechanism of injury, grade of associated intraabdominal injuries, distribution of surgical procedures, and complications differ significantly between young and elderly patients; and (2) the survival rate (65.5%) in elderly patients may be sufficient to consider anatomic hepatic resection to be a useful, safe procedure.
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