Procedure Risk vs Frailty in Outcomes for Elderly Emergency General Surgery Patients: Results of a National Analysis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the American College of Surgeons




BACKGROUND: The direct association between procedure risk and outcomes in elderly emergency general surgery (EGS) patients has not been analyzed. Studies only highlight the importance of frailty. A comprehensive analysis of relevant risk factors and their association with outcomes in elderly EGS patients is lacking. We hypothesized that procedure risk has a stronger association with relevant outcomes in elderly EGS patients compared to frailty. STUDY DESIGN: Elderly patients (age > 65) undergoing emergency general surgery operative procedures were identified in the NSQIP) database (2018 to 2020) and stratified based on the presence of frailty calculated by the Modified 5 Item Frailty Index (mFI-5; mFI 0 Non-Frail, mFI 1-2 Frail, and mFI ≥3 Severely Frail) and based on procedure risk. Multivariable regression models and Receiving Operative Curve (ROC) analysis were used to determine risk factors associated with outcomes. RESULTS: A total of 59,633 elderly EGS patients were classified into non-frail (17,496; 29.3%), frail (39,588; 66.4%), and severely frail (2,549; 4.3%). There were 25,157 patients in the low-risk procedure group and 34,476 in the high-risk group.Frailty and procedure risk were associated with increased mortality, complications, failure to rescue, and readmissions. Differences in outcomes were greater when patients were stratified according to procedure risk compared to frailty stratification alone. Procedure risk had a stronger association with relevant outcomes in elderly EGS patients compared to frailty. CONCLUSIONS: Assessing frailty in the elderly EGS patient population without adjusting for the type of procedure or procedure risk ultimately presents an incomplete representation of how frailty impacts patient-related outcomes.


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