Can Sarcopenia Quantified by Ultrasound of the Rectus Femoris Muscle Predict Adverse Outcome of Surgical Intensive Care Unit Patients as well as Frailty? A Prospective, Observational Cohort Study

Ann Surg. 2016 Dec;264(6):1116-1124. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000001546.


Objective: To compare sarcopenia and frailty for outcome prediction in surgical intensive care unit (SICU) patients.

Background: Frailty has been associated with adverse outcomes and describes a status of muscle weakness and decreased physiological reserve leading to increased vulnerability to stressors. However, frailty assessment depends on patient cooperation. Sarcopenia can be quantified by ultrasound and the predictive value of sarcopenia at SICU admission for adverse outcome has not been defined.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, observational study of SICU patients. Sarcopenia was diagnosed by ultrasound measurement of rectus femoris cross-sectional area. Frailty was diagnosed by the Frailty Index Questionnaire based on 50 variables. Relationship between variables and outcomes was assessed by multivariable regression analysis NCT02270502.

Results: Sarcopenia and frailty were quantified in 102 patients and observed in 43.1% and 38.2%, respectively. Sarcopenia predicted adverse discharge disposition (discharge to nursing facility or in-hospital mortality, odds ratio 7.49; 95% confidence interval 1.47-38.24; P = 0.015) independent of important clinical covariates, as did frailty (odds ratio 8.01; 95% confidence interval 1.82-35.27; P = 0.006); predictive ability did not differ between sarcopenia and frailty prediction model, reflected by χ values of 21.74 versus 23.44, respectively, and a net reclassification improvement (NRI) of -0.02 (P = 0.87). Sarcopenia and frailty predicted hospital length of stay and the frailty model had a moderately better predictive accuracy for this outcome.

Conclusions: Bedside diagnosis of sarcopenia by ultrasound predicts adverse discharge disposition in SICU patients equally well as frailty. Sarcopenia assessed by ultrasound may be utilized as rapid beside modality for risk stratification of critically ill patients.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Critical Illness*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quadriceps Muscle / diagnostic imaging*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sarcopenia / complications*
  • Sarcopenia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Associated data