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Minerva Anestesiologica 2021 October;87(10):1128-38

DOI: 10.23736/S0375-9393.21.15388-X

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Anesthesia for the elderly: a narrative review

Cynthia OLOTU

Department of Anesthesiology, Center of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany



As octogenarians in the operation room are no longer an exemption but the norm, perioperative management needs to be adopted to meet the special requirements of this group of patients. Anesthesia does not need to be re-invented to fit the elderly. However, as elderly patients are among those most affected by adverse postoperative outcomes, the same diligence that is as a matter of course exercised in anesthesiologic care of the youngest patients’ needs to be exercised for the eldest as well. Aging is associated with characteristic physiologic changes and an overall reduction in compensation width. However, the individual relevance of these changes varies distinctly. A comprehensive preoperative assessment is therefore essential to identify those at high risk. Maintaining functionality and preventing cognitive decline are central elements of perioperative care for frail elders, often only requiring unspectacular, but effective adjustments to established routine care processes. This review focuses on current recommendations in the perioperative anesthesiologic management of elderly patients with a view towards assisting clinical anesthesiologists in implementing respective structures in their setting and adjusting care pathways to meet the needs of this vulnerable but growing group of patients and improve their postoperative outcome.


KEY WORDS: Frail elderly; Perioperative care; Anesthesia; Risk assessment; Surgical procedures

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