From the Journals

Frailty, not age, predicted complications after ambulatory surgery


Key clinical point: Frailty was an independent risk factor for 30-day complications of ambulatory surgery, independent of age and other correlates.

Major finding: Having an intermediate (0.18-0.35) frailty score increased the odds of any complication by 70% (OR, 1.7).

Data source: A single-center retrospective cohort study of 140,828 patients older than 40 years from the 2007-2010 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.

Disclosures: The investigators had no disclosures.



Frailty was associated with a significant increase in 30-day complications after ambulatory hernia repair or ambulatory surgery of the breast, thyroid, or parathyroid, according to the results of a large retrospective cohort study.

Elderly woman in hospital bed Thinkstock

An intermediate score reflected the presence of two to three frailty traits, such as impaired functional status, history of diabetes, pneumonia, chronic cardiovascular or lung disease, or impaired sensorium, the investigators noted. Notably, having a high modified frailty index (four or more frailty traits) was associated with 3.3-fold higher odds of any complication and with nearly 4-fold higher odds of serious complications, even after controlling for potential confounders.

Among modifiable risk factors, only the use of local and monitored anesthesia was associated with a significant decrease in the likelihood of serious 30-day complications (adjusted OR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.53-0.81). Single-center studies of elderly patients undergoing inguinal hernia repair have reported similar findings, the researchers said. “For frail patients who choose to undergo hernia repair, local and monitored anesthesia care should be used whenever possible,” they wrote. “The use of local with monitored anesthesia care may be challenging in complex surgical procedures for breast cancer, such as modified radical mastectomy or axillary dissection, but it should be considered for patients with increased anesthesia risk who are undergoing ambulatory breast surgery.”

The National Institute on Aging provided partial funding. The investigators reported having no conflicts of interest.

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