David Cohen is a consultant geriatrician at Northwick Park Hospital and a spokesperson of the British Geriatrics Society.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s recent admission to hospital raised the question of surgery in older people. Surgery and an anaesthetic are a major stress on anybody and older people are particularly susceptible. This not only applies to people who are frail and have other illnesses but also to people who appear very fit. Obviously, in an emergency, there may be no choice other than to go ahead with surgery but in non-urgent situations it is important to take particular precautions in later life. Anyone contemplating surgery should make sure that they have a good general medical history and examination well before the operation. Problems that may affect recovery should be carefully sought and investigated so that there are no surprises. Continue reading