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 Researchers Claim To Have Found Risk Gauge For Operating On Seniors

Korean researchers believe they may have found a better way to gauge risks for seniors facing surgeries.
More than half of all people who go under the doctor’s knife are 65 years or older.

Yet elderly patients often have complicated mélanges of illnesses, diseases, and weaknesses that can make surgery a risky proposition. Worse, because of the complicated comorbidities, it’s often hard to tell just who is at most risk.

But now a team of researchers from Seoul believe they may have come up with a reliable way to gauge a senior’s risk factors before surgery. Studying outcomes for some 275 elderly patients in surgery, the researchers came up with what they’re calling a “multidimensional frailty score.”

The score is derived in part from using pre-existing measures such as the Charlson Comorbidity Index, but also the presence of malignant disease, low serum albumin levels, a senior’s dependence in activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living, dementia, delirium risks, short midarm circumference, and malnutrition.

When combined, the multidimensional frailty score “predicted all-cause mortality rates more accurately than the American Society of Anesthesiologists classification,” corresponding author Sun-wook Kim says in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Those patients whom the model predicted were at a higher risk were not only more likely to die following surgery, but also spent longer times in the hospital, recovering, Kim says. The researchers hope that their model, if successfully replicated, could bring some much-needed clarity to doctors and surgeons.

“This model may support surgical treatments for fit older patients at low risk of complications,” Kim says, “and it may also provide an impetus for better management of geriatric patients with a high risk of adverse outcomes after surgery.”

(Bill Myers is Provider’s senior editor. Email him at wmyers@providermagazine.com. Follow him on Twitter, @ProviderMyers.)

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