OBJECTIVE: To examine the long term outcome of patients over 65 years presenting with acute non-specific abdominal pain. SETTING: District general hospital. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort survey. SUBJECTS: 43 patients with non-specific abdominal pain, median age 75.5 years, presenting in 1985. METHODS: Case notes were reviewed and a questionnaire sent to the patients' general practitioners to assess long term outcome. RESULTS: There was little evidence that these patients subsequently developed or died from a disease requiring surgery. However, this patient group did have a significantly poorer five year survival than a representative control group because of cardiorespiratory disorders. CONCLUSIONS: Non-specific abdominal pain in elderly patients should not be regarded as harmless but may have medical rather than surgical implications.
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