Endoscopy 2001; 33(7): 580-584
DOI: 10.1055/s-2001-15313
Original Article

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

The Indications, Utilization and Safety of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy in an Extremely Elderly Patient Cohort

G. A. Clarke, B. C. Jacobson, R. J. Hammett, D. L. Carr-Locke
  • Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University Medical School, Boston, USA
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
31 December 2001 (online)

Background: In developed nations, increasing proportions of the population now reach advanced age. Physicians may be reluctant to refer such patients for noncritical diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, on the basis of perceived diminution of tolerance, safety and substantive benefits in these patients. We aimed to review the utility and safety of gastrointestinal endoscopy in an extremely elderly cohort.

Methods: The study involved 214 consecutive participants aged 85 years or more, between 1995 and 1997. They were identified using a prospective database linked to the endoscopy reporting system. Procedure type, indication, use of sedation, complications, and outcomes were evaluated.

Results: The median age was 87 (85 - 94, σ = 2). The female:male ratio was 3:2; 185 had undergone one procedure and 29 two or more; and 65 % of procedures were performed on an outpatient basis. Of the inpatient procedures, 10 % of all procedures were performed emergently, predominantly for upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Midazolam was administered to 129 patients (60 %), at a median dose of 2 mg (range 1 - 11); of these, 75 (35 %) also received a median dose of 25 μg fentanyl (range 12.5 - 125). Colonoscopy (n = 95) was the most frequently performed procedure, followed by esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) (n = 64) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) (n = 21). There was no procedure-related mortality. The incidence of post-ERCP pancreatitis was 5 %, colonic perforation 1 %, and cardiopulmonary complications in sedated patients, 0.6 %. The majority underwent procedures which related to active management of ongoing medical problems, and procedures were performed for palliative indications in only 15 (7 %) patients.

Conclusions: Gastrointestinal endoscopy is extremely safe and well tolerated in extremely elderly patients. Age alone should not influence decisions relating to its utilization.


D. Carr-Locke, M.D.

Director of Endoscopy
Brigham and Women's Hospital

75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115

Fax: Fax:+ 1-617-732-7407

Email: E-mail:dcarrlocke@partners.org