This study was to examine whether 'fit' patients over the age of 50 who require elective surgery for ulcerative colitis are suitable candidates for restorative proctocolectomy, providing that they are continent before operation and that the anal sphincter is preserved in its entirety without stripping of the mucosa or endoanal anastomosis. Between 1986 and 1991, 18 patients 50 to 66 years old (median 55 years: nine men) underwent restorative proctocolectomy with end to end ileoanal anastomosis without mucosal stripping (12 quadruplicated (W), four duplicated (J), two no reservoir). The results were compared 12 (range three to 24) months later with those of 18 matched patients who were less than 50 years of age (median 34 years). In patients over 50, median resting anal pressure was 88 (range 44-131) cm water before and 80 (47-138) cm water after the operation (NS). In patients under 50, median resting anal pressure was 76 (51-128) cm water before and 77 (36-137) cm water after operation (NS). Resting anal pressure in older patients did not differ significantly from that in younger patients either before or after the operation. Both sensory and reflex anal functions were preserved as well after operation in the older patients as in the younger ones. The clinical results in patients over 50 were slightly inferior to the results for the younger patients, but the difference was small and not significant. Hence age alone is not a contraindication to restorative surgery provided that the anal sphincter is preserved in its entirety.
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