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Spine surgery in elder patients

Spine surgery in elder patients
 
 
If spine surgeries are discussed, we believe that advanced age will create a problem. However, age factor does not mean that the result will be so bad.  We may say that this is a good news for thousands of elder patients who complain for low back pain and have restricted daily movements because of low back pain. In fact, risk of complications may be higher in the patients over 65 years of age when compared with younger patients.  However, it is not a significant risk factor solely.  In other words, a 83-year old individual who have minor health problems recovers from an important surgery better than a 67-year old patient with heart disease. 

How does spine deform in advanced ages?

Individuals in advanced age have spine problems more. Because, inflammatory diseases, joint and spine problems become common by aging. These problems narrows the distance between the spines.  Furthermore, discs providing a space between the spines become dry and flat during aging. This creates a pressure on the spine canal (spinal cord and the canal including the nerves originated from the spinal cord) and causes pain. 

Surgical treatment for patients over 65 years   

Regardless from the age of the patient, surgery is not a first treatment option for back pains. Mild pain and complaints may be treated with non-surgical methods.  For instance, exercise, lifestyle changes, hot and cold applications, needle therapies or drug treatment may be useful.  However, if a patient's pain persist within 6 to 12 months despite trying all these methods, surgical approach may be tried, even the patient is older than 65 years of age.  If there is not any concomitant chronic disease, the surgery may be a solution in any age, especially for low back pain.

Spine surgeries

Is advanced age a risk for increase of complications? Within the scope of our research, we examined patients who had serious spine surgery called lumbar fusion surgery. In these surgeries, two or more spines are connected to each other.  The aim of the surgery is to decrease low back pain, to eliminate posture disorder or to create the balance. However, lumbar fusion surgeries may not be performed on elder patients in some cases. The reason for that are possible complications due to elder age during or after the surgery. There are many studied indicating that complication rates are high in these patients. However, our research indicates that smoking, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases create more risk than elder age factor. If such chronic diseases do not exist, spine surgeries may be applied in any age.

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