Is level of procedural risk associated with frailty and mortality in emergency general surgery patients?
In this cross-sectional study of 882 929 emergency general surgery admissions, frailty was significantly associated with mortality. After stratified analysis, this association remained significant for high-risk procedures, and it was even greater within low-risk procedures.
Procedural risk level is associated with frailty and mortality in emergency general surgery patients, and preoperative frailty assessment should be strongly considered even within low-risk procedures.
In this aging society, older patients are more commonly undergoing emergency general surgery (EGS). Although frailty has been associated with worse outcomes in this population, EGS encompasses a heterogeneous mix of procedures.
To determine if the association of frailty with morbidity and mortality in EGS patients varies based on the level of procedural risk.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This cross-sectional study analyzed Medicare inpatient claims file (January 2007-December 2015) and included all inpatients who underwent 1 of 7 previously described EGS procedures shown to represent 80% of EGS volume, complications, and mortality nationally. Analysis took place from September 2019 to January 2020.
The primary exposure of interest was risk procedural level. EGS procedures were stratified as high risk (excision of small intestine, excision of large intestine, peptic ulcer repair, lysis of peritoneal adhesions, and laparotomy) and low risk (appendectomy and cholecystectomy).
Main Outcomes and Measures
The primary outcome was overall 30-day mortality after discharge. Frailty was assessed using a claims-based frailty index. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used and was stratified by risk level.
A total of 882 929 EGS patients were included in this study (mean [SD] age, 77.9 [7.5] years; 483 637 [54%] were female). Overall mortality was 4.5% (n = 40 304). The frailty index classified 12.6% (n = 111 513) of patients as frail, and mortality within this group was 9.9% (n = 11 307). High-risk procedures represented 53% (n = 468 098) of the caseload, and mortality was 6.8% (n = 31 979). For low-risk procedures, mortality was 2% (n = 8325). Frailty was significantly associated with mortality (odds ratio, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.60-1.68). After stratified analysis, this association remained significant for high-risk (odds ratio, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.49-1.58) and low-risk (odds ratio, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.94-2.17) procedures.
Conclusions and Relevance
Frailty was significantly associated with mortality in patients undergoing EGS, with an even greater association in low-risk procedures. Preoperative frailty assessment is imperative even in low-risk procedures.
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Castillo-Angeles M, Cooper Z, Jarman MP, Sturgeon D, Salim A, Havens JM. Association of Frailty With Morbidity and Mortality in Emergency General Surgery by Procedural Risk Level. JAMA Surg. 2021;156(1):68–74. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2020.5397
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