To describe and critique tools used to assess frailty in vascular surgery patients, and investigate its associations with patient factors and outcomes.
Increasing evidence shows negative impacts of frailty on outcomes in surgical patients, but little investigation of its associations with patient factors has been undertaken.
Systematic review and meta-analysis of studies reporting frailty in vascular surgery patients (PROSPERO registration: CRD42018116253) searching Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Scopus. Quality of studies was assessed using Newcastle–Ottawa scores (NOS) and quality of evidence using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation criteria. Associations of frailty with patient factors were investigated by difference in means (MD) or expressed as risk ratios (RRs), and associations with outcomes expressed as odds ratios (ORs) or hazard ratios (HRs). Data were pooled using random-effects models.
Fifty-three studies were included in the review and only 8 (15%) were both good quality (NOS ≥ 7) and used a well-validated frailty measure. Eighteen studies (62,976 patients) provided data for the meta-analysis. Frailty was associated with increased age [MD 4.05 years; 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.35, 4.75], female sex (RR 1.32; 95% CI 1.14, 1.54), and lower body mass index (MD −1.81; 95% CI −2.94, −0.68). Frailty was associated with 30-day mortality [adjusted OR (AOR) 2.77; 95% CI 2.01–3.81), postoperative complications (AOR 2.16; 95% CI 1.55, 3.02), and long-term mortality (HR 1.85; 95% CI 1.31, 2.62). Sarcopenia was not associated with any outcomes.
Frailty, but not sarcopenia, is associated with worse outcomes in vascular surgery patients. Well-validated frailty assessment tools should be preferred clinically, and in future research.