Morphometric age and surgical risk

J Am Coll Surg. 2013 May;216(5):976-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2013.01.052. Epub 2013 Mar 21.


Background: A cornerstone of a surgeon's clinical assessment of suitability for major surgery is best described as the "eyeball test." Preoperative imaging may provide objective measures of this subjective assessment by calculating a patient's morphometric age. Our hypothesis is that morphometric age is a surgical risk factor distinct from chronologic age and comorbidity and correlates with surgical mortality and length of stay.

Study design: This is a retrospective cohort study within a large academic medical center. Using novel analytic morphomic techniques on preoperative CT scans, a morphometric age was assigned to a random sample of patients having inpatient general and vascular abdominal surgery from 2006 to 2011. The primary outcomes for this study were postoperative mortality (1-year) and length of stay (LOS).

Results: The study cohort (n = 1,370) was stratified into tertiles based on morphometric age. The postoperative risk of mortality was significantly higher in the morphometric old age group when compared with the morphometric middle age group (odds ratio 2.42, 95% CI 1.52 to 3.84, p < 0.001). Morphometric old age patients were predicted to have a LOS 4.6 days longer than the morphometric middle age tertile. Similar trends were appreciated when comparing morphometric middle and young age tertiles. Chronologic age correlated poorly with these outcomes. Furthermore, patients in the chronologic middle age tertile found to be of morphometric old age had significantly inferior outcomes (mortality 21.4% and mean LOS 13.8 days) compared with patients in the chronologic middle age tertile found to be of morphometric young age (mortality 4.5% and mean LOS 6.3 days, p < 0.001 for both).

Conclusions: Preoperative imaging can be used to assign a morphometric age to patients, which accurately predicts mortality and length of stay.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Area Under Curve
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay* / statistics & numerical data
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / mortality*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / mortality