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Liver Transplantation Safe in Older Patient Populations

Survival rates similar for patients in their 70s compared to those in their 50s

TUESDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Liver transplantation in septuagenarians results in similar rates of survival compared to younger transplant recipients, assuming other risk factors are controlled, according to a report published in the August issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Gerald S. Lipshutz, M.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles, and colleagues compared safety outcomes in first-time liver transplant recipients aged 70 years or older (62 patients; average age 71.9) to those of younger patients aged 50 to 59 years (864 patients; average age 54.3).

Survival rates between the two groups were not significantly different. One-year survival rates were 73.3 percent in the older group versus 79.4 percent in the younger group. Five-year survival rates were 47.1 versus 65.3 percent, and at 10 years 39.7 percent versus 45.2 percent, respectively. Within one year of transplantation, infection was the primary cause of death in the older group, followed by cardiac causes. Most deaths beyond the first year after surgery in the older group of patients were attributed to cardiovascular disease or cancer.

"Measures of physiological age and risk of complications should be used in the evaluation process of elderly transplant candidates," the authors conclude. "Chronological age by itself is not a sole predictor of outcome."

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