Background: While age at death is on the rise, the number of postmortem examinations is declining and is disproportionately low among the elderly population. Research on the subject of gender-associated pathology in the elderly is also scarce.
Objective: To seek eventual gender-related differences in autopsies of elderly patients.
Methods: We analyzed the data extracted from a published report on 93 PMEs performed at a geriatric hospital during the past 20 years.
Results: Ninety-three autopsies, representing 1.2% of the 8,101 deaths during these 20 years, were performed. Forty-five of the deceased were women and 48 were men. The incidence of pulmonary embolism was significantly higher in women (28%) than in men (10%) (P< 0.02). There was no significant difference in the gender distribution of the other diagnoses.
Conclusion: Gender distribution of PME-based causes of death in elderly patients revealed a significant rate of pulmonary embolism in women. A thorough search of the medical literature revealed two previous studies with similar findings. Further research will determine whether pulmonary embolism is more frequent or whether it has a worse prognosis in frail elderly women.