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. 2013 Aug;17(2):398-402.
doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivt197. Epub 2013 May 10.

What Is the Utility of Preoperative Frailty Assessment for Risk Stratification in Cardiac Surgery?

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What Is the Utility of Preoperative Frailty Assessment for Risk Stratification in Cardiac Surgery?

Nigel Mark Bagnall et al. Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. .
Free PMC article


A best evidence topic in cardiac surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was whether frailty scoring can be used either separately or combined with conventional risk scores to predict survival and complications. Five hundred and thirty-five papers were found using the reported search, of which nine cohort studies represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The authors, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes and results of these papers are tabulated. There is a paucity of evidence, as advanced age is a criterion for exclusion in most randomized controlled trials. Conventional models of risk following cardiac surgery are not calibrated to accurately predict the outcomes in the elderly and do not currently include frailty parameters. There is no universally accepted definition for frailty, but it is described as a physiological decline in multiple organ systems, decreasing a patient's capacity to withstand the stresses of surgery and disease. Frailty is manifest clinically as deficits in functional capacity, such as slow ambulation and impairments in the activities of daily living (ADL). Analysis of predictive models using area under receiver operating curves (AUC) suggested only a modest benefit by adding gait speed to a Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS score)-Predicted Risk of Mortality or Major Morbidity (PROM) risk score (AUC 0.04 mean difference). However, a specialist frailty assessment tool named FORECAST was found to be superior at predicting adverse outcomes at 1 year compared with either EuroSCORE or STS score (AUC 0.09 mean difference). However, risk models incorporating frailty parameters require further validation and have not been widely adopted. Routine collection of objective frailty measures such as 5-metre walk time and ADL assessment will help to provide data to develop new risk-assessment models to facilitate risk stratification and clinical decision-making in elderly patients. Based on the best evidence currently available, we conclude that frailty is an independent predictor of adverse outcome following cardiac surgery or transcatheter aortic valve implantation, increasing the risk of mortality 2- to 4-fold compared with non-frail patients.

Keywords: Cardiac surgery; Elderly; Frailty; Outcome; Review.

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