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Clinical Challenges
December 1999

Surgery in the Aging Population

Author Affiliations


Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999;125(12):1405. doi:10.1001/archotol.125.12.1405

Fortunately, the mortality rates from head and neck cancer surgery are low. In my career of more than 5000 major cases of head and neck surgery, I have had 8 operative deaths, defined as death occurring within the first 30 days from the time of surgery or until the patient leaves the hospital, whichever is later. This low mortality figure is not attributable to my own surgical abilities, but rather to advances in monitoring by anesthesiologists and intensive care unit personnel, as well as outstanding resident and nursing care. Head and neck surgery does not generally result in large fluid shifts and is associated with a relatively low infection rate compared with other types of surgical procedures.

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