Association Between the Modified Frailty Index and Outcomes Following Lobectomy

J Surg Res. 2023 Mar:283:559-571. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2022.11.014. Epub 2022 Nov 25.


Introduction: Elective thoracic surgery is safe in well-selected elderly patients. The association of frailty with postoperative morbidity in elective-lobectomy patients is understudied. We examined frailty as defined by abbreviated modified frailty index (mFI-5), mFI-11 in the thoracic surgery population, and the correlation between frailty and postoperative complications.

Methods: We studied outcomes of patients in two cohorts, 2010-2012 and 2013-2019, from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database and used multivariable logistic regression models to predict all postoperative morbidity, mortality, and major morbidity. The mFI-5 could be calculated for all subjects (both 2010-2012, and 2013-2019); the mFI-11 could only be calculated for the 2010-2012 cohort. Patient frailty was defined as mFI≥3 (with either index). We used odds ratios (ORs) to examine associations of preoperative characteristics with postoperative complications and C-statistics to assess overall predictive power.

Results: Complications were less prevalent in the 2013-2019 cohort (17.9% versus 19.5%, P = 0.008). Open lobectomies were more common in the 2010-2012 cohort (53.9% versus 34.6%) and were strongly associated with postoperative morbidity and mortality (ORs >1.5) in both cohorts. Each frailty measure was associated with morbidity and mortality (ORs >1.4) after adjusting for other significant preoperative factors. Models on the 2010-2012 cohort had nearly identical C-statistics using the mFI-11 versus mFI-5 frailty indices (0.6142 versus 0.6139; P > 0.8).

Conclusions: Frailty, as captured in the mFI-5, is a significant associated factor of postoperative morbidity and mortality following elective lobectomies. As a modifiable risk factor, frailty should be considered in surgical decision-making and when counseling patients regarding perioperative risks.

Keywords: Elective thoracic surgery; Frailty; Lobectomy; Pulmonary surgical procedures.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Elective Surgical Procedures
  • Frailty* / complications
  • Humans
  • Morbidity
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors