16 Surgeries With the Highest Death Rates


A doctor sitting with a patient across a table. | Daizuoxin/iStock/Getty Images

16 Surgeries With the Highest Death Rates

No oneِ wants toِ considerِ complications whenِ theyِ undergo surgery.
Medical research shows evenِ the mostِ statistically safe surgeries comeِ with risks.
But firstِ we’ll takeِ a quick lookِ atِ why youِ shouldِ considerِ surgery.

1. Septal myotomy

Mortality rate: 0.4%

Your family can also be your biggest support system when you consider surgery. | Megaflopp/iStock/Getty Images

Complications: irregular heart rhythms, blood clots leading toِ stroke, aortic valve problems, andِ removal ofِ too muchِ heart muscle When doneِ successfully, thisِ surgery reduces theِ thickening ofِ the heart muscles.
The procedure isِ quite complicated, andِ you’ll haveِ to spend time inِ the ICU if youِ survive.
Fortunately thisِ surgery hasِ a lowِ mortality rate ofِ only 0.4% inِ the firstِ 30 days afterward.

Next: This surgery requires delicate physical reconstruction.

2. Esophagectomy

Mortality rate: 6-7%

Complications: blood loss, pneumonia, and injury to the spleen or the trachea

Serious operations can affect your emotions. | Shironosov/iStock/Getty Image

An open esophagectomy, orِ esophageal resection, isِ a type ofِ surgery inِ which a part ofِ the esophagus orِ the entire esophagus isِ removed.
The procedure carries a lot ofِ risk due toِ theِ reconstruction ofِ the area betweenِ the stomach andِ the healthy part ofِ the esophagus.
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Next: Experts deem this surgery the most burdensome.

3. Removal of part of the large intestine

Mortality rate: 16.9%

A common procedure many people undergo. | PRImageFactory/iStock/Getty Images

Complications: heart attack, blood clots, and incisional hernia

The mostِ burdensome emergency surgery involves removing part ofِ the large intestine.
The mostِ common reason forِ this procedure is a symptom called volvulus, meaning theِ large intestine twists itselfِ intoِ a knot andِ creates a blockage.
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Next: A staggering 42% of people see complications from this procedure.

4. Stomach ulcer surgery

A serious risk to consider | AlexRaths/iStock/Getty Images

Mortality rate: 6.8%

Complications: recurring ulceration, iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, and folate deficiency

According toِ a recentِ study, 42% ofِ those whoِ hadِ stomach ulcer surgery experienced complications.
Luckily, surgery onِ stomach ulcers isِ much lessِ common thanِ itِ used toِ be.
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Next: A little organ with scary surgery risks

5. Pancreatectomy

Mortality rate: 5-10%

Complications: delayed gastric emptying and pancreatic fistula

Having yourِ pancreas removed isِ a pretty risky procedure.
While theِ mortality rate hasِ decreased inِ recent years, youِ mayِ still experience complications.
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Next: Recovery is extremely painful after this procedure.

6. Spinal osteomyelitis surgery

Mortality rate: 6.9%

Complications: secondary infection

Antibiotics takeِ care ofِ mostِ spinal infections, soِ requiring spinal osteomyelitis surgery isِ quite unusual. However, whenِ you needِ it, theِ complex procedure willِ remove theِ spine’s infected disk orِ disks. And recovery isِ painful.

Next: Dieting may not be enough for people considering this surgery.

7. Liposuction

Mortality rate: very low

Complications: systemic infections, blood clots, fat clogs in the lungs, and stomach wall perforations

Liposuction seemsِ likeِ a dream comeِ true, butِ for some, it’s a nightmare. An oldِ study showed a death rate ofِ aboutِ 20 inِ everyِ 100,000 patients whoِ underwent liposuction betweenِ 1994 andِ 1998. , 7 ] .

Next: This helpful procedure is extremely risky.

8. Gastric bypass

Mortality rate: <0.5%

Complications: bowel obstruction, gallstones, stomach perforation, and ulcers

Gastric bypass surgery helps a lot ofِ people, butِ doctors warn patients aboutِ its risks, especiallyِ becauseِ the patients carry soِ muchِ excess weight. Those whoِ choose toِ haveِ the surgery alsoِ have anِ increased risk forِ complications withِ anesthesia, becauseِ it’s oftenِ difficult toِ insert theِ tube intoِ their airways. , 7 ] .

Next: Doctors will only perform this dangerous procedure in emergencies.

9. Surgical ventricular restoration

Mortality rate: 8%

Complications: heart failure and infection

This surgery isِ great atِ stopping heart failure inِ its tracks, butِ there’s a reason it’s utilized forِ emergencies only. The mortality rate isِ still 8% evenِ though improvements haveِ occurred overِ the years. , 7 ] .

Next: This life-changing surgery has a huge mortality rate.

10. Carotid artery stenting

Mortality rate: 32%

Complications: stroke or mini-stroke, narrowing of arteries, and blood clots

A narrowed carotid artery mustِ beِ opened, otherwiseِ a patient couldِ have a stroke. To doِ this, a surgeon willِ insert a stent intoِ a major artery — usuallyِ theِ femoral artery inِ the upper leg — andِ thread itِ through theِ patient’s arteries untilِ itِ reaches theِ carotid. Sadly, a 2015 study foundِ that theِ risk canِ outweigh theِ reward; carotid stenting hasِ a 32% mortality rate at twoِ years afterِ the procedure.

Next: This surgery commonly has scary complications.

11. Partial colectomy

Mortality rate: 5.33%

Complications: adhesions, injury to the bladder, and leaking between sections of the colon

A partial colectomy isِ performed whenِ a patient isِ diagnosed withِ colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, precancerous polyps, orِ intestinal trauma. The mortality rate isn’t terrible (5.33%), butِ unfortunately, complications areِ common — someِ ofِ which canِ beِ fatal. , 7 ] .

Next: This procedure includes the removal of part of the skull.

12. Craniectomy

Mortality rate: 26.4%

Complications: stroke, seizures, spinal fluid leakage, and excessive swelling of the brain

Brain surgery isِ dangerous — there’s noِ doubt aboutِ it. But a craniectomy isِ especiallyِ brutal becauseِ it requires thatِ the piece ofِ skull removed toِ access theِ brain isِ not replaced afterِ the surgery isِ complete, meaning theِ patient isِ atِ risk forِ brain damage. According toِ a 2013 study, theِ “30-day mortality rate wasِ 26.4% inِ traumatically brain-injured patients undergoing decompressive craniectomy.” , 7 ] .

Next: A good reason to stay as healthy as possible

13. Coronary bypass

Mortality rate: 1%

Complications: stroke, kidney damage or failure, hypertension, and loss of mental sharpness

Your risks associatedِ with a coronary bypass largely depend onِ your age andِ fitness level. The death rate isِ a mere 1% forِ those underِ 65, butِ it increases withِ age. , 7 ] .

Next: This surgery has an abnormally high mortality rate.

14. Laparotomy

Mortality rate: 23.76%

Complications: hemorrhaging, infection, bowel blockages, and damage to internal organs

A laparotomy involves making a large incision throughِ the abdominal wall toِ gain access toِ the abdominal cavity. The patients tend toِ beِ quite ill whenِ thisِ procedure occurs. Sometimes theirِ condition isِ too grave forِ further operations.

Next: This common procedure killed a politician.

15. Gallbladder removal

Mortality rate: 19%

Complications: bile leakage, deep vein thrombosis, and infection

doctors perform overِ 500,000 gallbladder removals eachِ year. While death fromِ the routine surgery isِ rare, itِ doesِ happen. The mortality varies depending onِ whether theِ surgery isِ elective orِ anِ emergency.

Next: A surgery to manage the effects of your original surgery

16. Removal of abdominal adhesions

Mortality rate: 22%

Complications: infection

Months andِ even years afterِ successful intestinal surgeries, patients canِ develop painful adhesions — basically scar tissue. Doctors mustِ treat themِ asِ soon asِ possible otherwiseِ the patient couldِ get reallyِ sick. Unfortunately, abdominal adhesions removal comesِ with a 22% mortality rate, especially forِ older people.

Next: You must weigh the benefits of surgery, too!

The benefits of surgery

Obviously, theِ benefits ofِ surgery typically outweigh theِ risks. Always arm yourselfِ withِ information andِ talk toِ your doctor whenِ consideringِ a procedure. It’s crucial thatِ you trust yourِ doctor — andِ it’s perfectly acceptable toِ getِ a secondِ opinion.

Next: Here’s how to cope with the danger of surgery.

How to deal with surgery fear

All surgical procedures areِ nerve-wracking. If youِ feel anxious aboutِ your scheduled surgery, you’re notِ alone. You canِ minimize yourِ surgery risks byِ staying asِ healthy asِ possible beforehand.