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November 1966

Head and Neck Surgery in Patients Past 70

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Medical Center, and the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, Chicago.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1966;84(5):523-526. doi:10.1001/archotol.1966.00760030525012

IT HAS BECOME widely accepted in medicine that age is a relative feature of biological life span. Age itself is never a contraindication to needed surgery. In fact, it requires but little reflection to realize that in dealing with the aged members of a population, we are dealing with a selected group of people who have survived or avoided the prior threats to life in order to have arrived at an advanced chronological age.

Surgical risk is also a concept that has come to need redefinition. Moore1 has written that the word "risk" is incomplete because it carries no connotation or implication as to the alternative course should surgery be decided against; so the word risk implies a "free choice," which rarely exists.

One of us (A. L.)2 has previously described the status of the older patient during surgery as perhaps the best in years. It is somewhat