Women more likely to Survive Gastrointestinal Surgery than Men

July 1, 2011

A recent has found that women are more likely to survive after a gastrointestinal surgery than men.

According to a recent study, researchers from the University of California San Diego Health Systemhave discovered that women are more likely to survive after a gastrointestinal surgery than men.

When comparing women before menopause with men of the same age, the gap between the two is even wider.

The findings can be found in a paper titled "The Battle of the Sexes: Women Win Out in Gastrointestinal Surgery."The paper delves into the major differences between female and male patients and how gender can impact the success of a procedure.

Carrie Y. Peterson, first author of the paper and a surgical resident physician, stated that "science is just now understanding that one size does not necessarily fit all, as each individual person may respond differently to disease and treatment.”

“However,” she continued, “medical outcomes could be optimized by tailoring therapies based upon each individual's unique genetic make-up as well as other characteristics. Gender is among the most important traits.”

The researchers reviewed data from 307,124 patients who had survived gastrointestinal surgeries between the years of 1997 to 2007 from the National Institute of Healthdatabase. They discovered that over 50% of them were women. From this date, the researchers determined that women are 21.1% more likely to survive after a major stomach or intestinal surgery than men.

Further, they discovered that female patients had lower mortality rates from gastric, small intestine, large intestine, pancreatic, and hepatic surgeries.

Pre-menopausal women—females between the ages of eighteen and forty—were 33% less likely to die than men of the same age, while menopausal/post-menopausal women—females over the age of fifty—were only 17% less likely to die than men of the same age.

"The results suggest that female hormones might enhance the immune system—a process previously shown in animal models and also observed in trauma patients," reported Peterson. "Thus, there is a hope that negating the effects of testosterone or giving estrogen to male patients could be considered part of a treatment plan."

Exterior factors that might contribute to the increased rates of survival in women were accounted for, according to the researchers. Women, for instance, were more likely to have elective operations (58.23%) than men (53.57%). Women were also more likely to have their surgeries performed in teaching hospitals (52.01%) than men (50.96%); teaching hospitals typically provide the most up to date therapies along with supplementary patient care provided by the hospital health care providers.

Senior author of the paper, David C. Chang, PhD, MPH, MBA, director of Outcomes Research in the Department of Surgery, reported, “Women are probably more proactive with their health in general than men, have more reasons to seek health care, and access the system more readily. This may lead to addressing health care needs and surgical interventions earlier in the history of the disease, resulting in an elective operation. Men, in turn, may tend to delay presenting for a doctor visit until symptoms are severe and require urgent or complex intervention."

The study is published online in the Journal of Surgical Research.