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Super-elderly, spinal surgery, evaluating the risks and benefits: a retrospective single-centre cohort study.

INTRODUCTION: An increasingly ageing population presents emerging healthcare challenges. Adequate clinical evaluation and understanding of outcome-predicting factors are integral to delivering safe spinal surgery to super-elderly patients.

AIM: To evaluate spine surgery outcomes in patients aged 80 or above.

METHODS: We retrospectively evaluated patients 80 years and above who underwent elective or emergency spinal surgery between 2017 and 2022. The Eurospine Surgery Classification (ESC) was used to classify operations into Large, Medium, and Small. We calculated and compared Clinical Frailty Scores (CFS) pre- and post-operatively.

RESULTS: Two hundred forty-five patients met the inclusion criteria. Most were male (n = 145). The age range was 80 to 99 (mean 83.3). Most operations were elective (n = 151, 62%). In our cohort, 211, 22, 10,2 and 1 patients had degenerative, trauma, tumour, infective and vascular pathologies, respectively. According to the Eurospine classification, 201 (82.0%) had Minor spine surgery (63 emergently and 138 electively), 38 had Medium surgery (15.5% - 30 emergently and 8 electively), and 6 had Large surgery (2.4% - 1 emergently and 5 electively). 163 (66.5%) were discharged or under follow-up. There were 11 in-patient mortalities (4.5%). Outpatient mortality was 51 (20.8%), with the median time from surgery to death being 504.5 days, all the outpatient mortalities were neither non-spinal pathology nor spinal surgical related. CFS improved across the cohort, from 5 pre-operatively to 4 post-operatively (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Spine surgery in those over the 80s can be performed safely and improve their quality of life, as demonstrated by improvements in the CFS. Good patient selection and adequate pre-operative workup is essential, although it may not be possible in emergencies.

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