Department of Surgery »  Faculty »  General Surgery »  Emily Finlayson, M.D., M.S.

Emily Finlayson, M.D., M.S.

Associate Professor in Residence
Department of Surgery, Division of General Surgery
Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics
Phillip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies
Director, Center for Surgery in Older Adults

Contact Information

(415) 885-3606 Patients & Clinic
(415) 885-3625 Academic Office
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  • 1985-89 Yale University, New Haven, CT- B.A., Arts
  • 1990-93 Stanford University, Stanford, CA - Pre-Med
  • 1993-97 Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA - M.D.
  • 2000-02 Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH - M.S.
  • 1997-2000  University of California, San Francisco - Intern, General Surgery
  • 2002-04  University of California, San Francisco - Resident, General Surgery
  • 2000-02 V.A. Outcomes Group, V.A. Medical Center, White River Junction, VT - Fellow, Surgical Outcomes Research
  • 2004-05 Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN - Fellow, Colon and Rectal Surgery
  • American Board of Surgery, 2005
  • American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery, 2006
  • Surgical outcomes in frail elderly patients

Dr. Emily Finlayson is Associate Professor of Surgery and Health Policy and Director of the UCSF Center for Surgery in Older Adults (CSOA). Her clinical areas of expertise include colon and rectal cancer, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, with a focus on minimally invasive surgical techniques.

After completing her medical degree at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Finlayson trained in general surgery at UCSF and in colon and rectal surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. In her post-doctorate training, she received a Master of Science from the Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth Medical School and completed a research fellowship with the VA Outcomes Group in White River Junction, Vermont.  She was on faculty at the University of Michigan Department of Surgery and the Michigan Surgical Collaborative for Outcomes Research and Evaluation until she returned to UCSF in 2009. Her current research is in population-based surgical outcomes with a focus on functional outcomes in the frail elderly.

Dr. Finlayson's research focuses on using administrative data to examine ‘real world' surgical outcomes in the elderly. For example, in an analysis of operative mortality in 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older undergoing elective diagnostic high-risk surgery, she found that the risk of death increased dramatically with age. Her work examining the impact of age and comorbidity on operative mortality and survival among octogenarians undergoing cancer surgery demonstrated population-based mortality rates in octogenarians that were considerably higher than those reported in published reports from case series or trials. To better understand surgical risks in elders, she has explored the role of institutional factors in surgical outcomes. As is now widely recognized, her work demonstrated that provider procedure volume is inversely related to operative mortality for many high-risk operations and that this association was greatest in elder surgical patients.

In Dr. Finlayson's most recent work, she uses a national nursing home registry to evaluate outcomes after surgery in long stay nursing home residents. She found that nursing home residents experienced high operative mortality for ‘low risk' procedures. After operations to remove the gallbladder or appendix, more that 1 out of 10 nursing home residents died after surgery. She has also used this data to evaluate survival and functional status after colon cancer surgery and found that nursing home residents experience substantial and sustained functional decline after surgery. One-year survival was less than 50%.

The findings in her epidemiology research inspired the creation of the UCSF Center for Surgery in Older Adults. Under her leadership, the interdisciplinary team of stakeholders from surgery, anesthesia, rehabilitation services, geriatrics, palliative care, nursing, education, and health policy with expertise in quantitative research, qualitative research, and implementation science are working together to develop, implement, evaluate best practices in geriatric surgery through the development of a geriatric surgery registry. Our overarching goal is to discover best practices in geriatric surgery through patient-centered outcomes assessment, comparative effectiveness analyses, and interventional trials. In addition, we identify and explore barriers to delivery of optimal care with the aim to improve implementation of interdisciplinary patient-centered surgical care for older adults at UCSF and beyond.

ResidentYearsGrant or Funding Source
Jennifer Kaplan, M.D. 7/1/2014-
Jessica Cohan, M.D.
Lawrence Oresanya, M.D.
Most recent publications from a total of 38
  1. Sbitany H, Kwon E, Chern H, Finlayson E, Varma MG, Hansen SL. Outcomes Analysis of Biologic Mesh Use for Abdominal Wall Reconstruction in Clean-Contaminated and Contaminated Ventral Hernia Repair. Ann Plast Surg. 2015 Aug; 75(2):201-4. View in PubMed
  2. Cohan JN, Bacchetti P, Varma MG, Finlayson E. Impact of Patient Age on Procedure Type for Ulcerative Colitis: A National Study. Dis Colon Rectum. 2015 Aug; 58(8):769-74. View in PubMed
  3. Oresanya L, Zhao S, Gan S, Fries BE, Goodney PP, Covinsky KE, Conte MS, Finlayson E. Functional outcomes after lower extremity revascularization in nursing home residents: a national cohort study. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Jun 1; 175(6):951-7. View in PubMed
  4. Cohan JN, Bacchetti P, Varma MG, Finlayson E. Outcomes after ileoanal pouch surgery in frail and older adults. J Surg Res. 2015 Oct; 198(2):327-33. View in PubMed
  5. Finlayson E. Reply to N.h. Turner et Al and l. Dziki et Al. J Clin Oncol. 2015 Apr 20; 33(12):1412. View in PubMed
  6. Gajdos C, Kile D, Hawn MT, Finlayson E, Henderson WG, Robinson TN. The significance of preoperative impaired sensorium on surgical outcomes in nonemergent general surgical operations. JAMA Surg. 2015 Jan 1; 150(1):30-6. View in PubMed
  7. Wang ED, Conkling N, Xu X, Chern H, Finlayson E, Varma MG, Hansen SL, Foster RD, Hoffman WY, Sbitany H. Perineal Flap Reconstruction following Oncologic Anorectal Extirpation: An Outcomes Assessment. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2015 Jan; 135(1):176e-84e. View in PubMed
  8. Finlayson E. RAMPing up the quality of rectal cancer surgery. J Clin Oncol. 2014 Sep 20; 32(27):2938-9. View in PubMed
  9. Robinson TN, Finlayson E. How to best forecast adverse outcomes following geriatric trauma: an ageless question? JAMA Surg. 2014 Aug; 149(8):773. View in PubMed
  10. Oresanya LB, Lyons WL, Finlayson E. Preoperative assessment of the older patient: a narrative review. JAMA. 2014 May; 311(20):2110-20. View in PubMed
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