Dependent functional status rather than age is a better predictor of adverse outcomes after excision of an infected abdominal aortic graft

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of vascular surgery








AAA; Elderly; Frailty; Graft infection; NSQIP


OBJECTIVE: The optimal management of infected abdominal aortic grafts is complete surgical excision plus in situ or extra-anatomic revascularization in patients who can tolerate this morbid operation. In addition to using age and the presence of comorbidities for risk assessment, physicians form a global clinical impression when deciding whether to offer excision or to manage conservatively. Functional status is a distinct objective measure that can inform this decision. This study examines the relative impact of age and functional status on outcomes of infected abdominal aortic graft excision to guide surgical decision-making. METHODS: Current Procedural Terminology code 35907 was used to identify patients undergoing excision of infected abdominal aortic graft in the 2005 to 2017 American College of Surgeons - National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database. Patients were stratified by the upper age quartile (75 years old) as a cutoff, and then by functional status, independent vs dependent (as defined by NSIQIP). The patients were then stratified into four groups: Younger (<75)/Independent, Younger (<75)/Dependent, Older (≥75)/Independent, and Older (≥75)/Dependent. Outcomes measured included 30-day mortality and major organ-system dysfunction. RESULTS: There were 814 patients who underwent infected abdominal aortic graft excision: 508 patients (62%) were Younger/Independent, 89 patients (11%) were Younger/Dependent, 176 patients (22%) were Older/Independent, and 41 patients (5%) were Older/Dependent. There was no statistically significant difference in 30-day mortality for Younger/Dependent (odds ratio [OR], 1.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.90-3.09; P = .536) or Older/Independent (OR, 1.31; 95% CI, 0.78-2.19; P = .311) patients when compared with Younger/Independent patients, which suggests that neither old age nor dependent functional status by itself adversely affects mortality. However, when both factors were present, Older/Dependent patients had three times higher mortality when compared with Younger/Independent patients (41.5% vs 13.4%, respectively; OR, 3.13; 95% CI, 1.46-6.71; P = .003). Furthermore, as long as patients presented with independent functional status, old age by itself did not adversely affect major organ-system dysfunction (ORs for Older/Independent vs Younger/Independent were 0.76 [P = .454], 1.04 [P = .874], and 0.90 [P = .692] for cardiac, pulmonary, and renal complications, respectively). On the contrary, even in younger patients, dependent functional status was significantly associated with higher pulmonary complications (Younger/Dependent vs Younger/Independent: OR, 2.22; 95% CI, 1.33-3.73; P = .002) and higher rates of unplanned reoperation (OR, 2.67; 95% CI, 1.62-4.41; P < .0001). CONCLUSIONS: Dependent functional status has significant association with adverse outcomes after excision of infected abdominal aortic grafts, whereas old age alone does not. Therefore, this procedure could be considered in appropriately selected elderly patients with otherwise good functional status. However, caution should be applied in dependent patients regardless of age due to the risk of pulmonary complications.