72 year old surgeon

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cuoricino

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Florence, Italy
Ciao a tutti! I was pretty active here surroundong my last OHS in 2009 (AVR) and I've been enjoying the revamped site! After 10+ years, it's time for OHS #2... I always thought I'd want the same surgeon. However, after consulting with him, and doing some research, I discovered he's now 72 years old.

I chose this surgeon because of his fantastic track record, and I was very pleased with his work last time. I'm curious, though - what are everyone's thoughts on having an older surgeon? It might be that one nagging thought I'm focusing on, but it is giving me pause. Am I just being silly?
 

honeybunny

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I don’t think you’re being silly. My surgeon had a world renowned reputation established over 30 years or more. When he spoke with my children after surgery he reported incorrectly on my procedure. I forget exactly what he misspoke but I was a bit put off by it. He’s a busy guy but that little slip up made me wonder about his skills. That said, your surgeon’s age doesn’t preclude his doing just as good a job as last time. Chat with him and assess the discussion to determine whether he still has snap. And ask who will be assisting him. One of the surgeons assisting at my surgery impressed me considerably. If he has a good team behind him you should be just fine.
 

Protimenow

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Doctor Silverhair (or no hair, or dark hair if he colors it) would be expected to have a capable team supporting him. In theory, the should be able to step in if he needs help.

The OHS requires a long time on your feet - standing over the patient. I'm not yet in my 70s - though this number is approaching - but I'm pretty sure that there's no way that I can stand for that long, for any reason. Since I've been told that my brain is in my butt, I don't think I can do well SITTING that long while operating.

As Agian suggested - getting a record of this surgeon's track record over the last few years couldn't hurt - except to 'insult' this surgeon - although he should clearly understand the reason for your reasonable inquiry.

Bodies vary - a 'young' 74 year old may be a lot healthier and more capable than an 'old' 50 year old. (I have two friends - both 78 years old. One has really bad knees, he's almost in constant pain, hardly mobile, and may be going for a few weeks of rehab. By contrast, my 78 year old hair cutter (this is a great guy), is lithe, appears to be healthy, he works in a second floor space that has no elevators. He appears to be healthy, vibrant, and looks, to me, like he may be in his '50s.) If your 74 year old surgeon is like the second one I describe, you may still be in good hands.
 

cuoricino

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Jun 8, 2009
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69
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Florence, Italy
Thanks for the input. I'm currently shopping around but will probably opt for an excellent surgeon who has the support of an excellent hospital (72 year old is now operating out of a private clinic). Have a meeting set up Monday with my first choice. Will probably not go with my original surgeon, but I'll have a little better peace of mind this way.
 

Protimenow

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The fact that the surgeon now operates out of a private clinic concerns me. Does this mean that his former hospital forced (strongly suggested) his retirement? Does the private clinic have to resources to handle unexpected complications? It's a bit worrisome to me.

It sounds like you've made a good decision to go with an excellent (and, no doubt, younger) surgeon with the support of an excellent hospital.

I hope all goes well for you.
 

cuoricino

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Jun 8, 2009
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Florence, Italy
In Italy, surgeons are not allowed to operate in public structures past the age of 70. I was surprised to learn this isn't the case in other countries and was at first reassured that talented surgeons in their 80s were still going strong.

So, yes he retired from his role of chief of cardiothoracic surgery in his previous hospital... because he had to. But now operates out of several private clinics throughout the country. I have no doubt he'd be a good choice... just maybe not the best choice right now as I really like the idea of a hospital and its many layers of patient support.
 
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Protimenow

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Thanks for the clarification. Having a clinic that is designed solely for cardiac surgery may not be a bad choice - it should be equipped to handle most (or all) complications. But I agree the idea of a hospital and many layers of support sounds like a good choice.
 

sylviayasgur

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Sep 1, 2001
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Westchester, NY
Sounds like you've got this under control. My husband had his first ross procedure done in 2001 by dr. stelzer. we were all much younger then. Last year my husband had dr. stelzer (clearly in his 70's) do his second valve replacement and repair.( He told us he will be retiring in the next few years and laid out a game plan for future surgeries, if needed). He was as sharp and on top of his game as ever.
when we walked out of our consult with him last year, Joey noted that he had gotten and looked older. I imagine dr. stelzer felt the same way looking at us.
Good luck in choosing a surgeon; you have to put your trust in them. if you are comfortable doing that, then you've got the right one.
please keep us posted!
 

Protimenow

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Yes. It's amazing how old everyone else gets.

Approaching another decade mark, I don't see (or maybe can't see) much change in my mental abilities (what day is it? I went to the kitchen but forgot why) and I'm able to do the same stuff that I did when I was younger -- except that I have experience to help me.

If I was a surgeon, I'm pretty sure that I'd have a hard time standing to do a five or six hour surgery.

So - you're not getting old -- everyone else around you is. Just don't look at photos of yourself when you were younger and try to avoid looking into mirrors.
 

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