Limited tools exist to stratify perioperative risk in patients undergoing spinal procedures. The modified frailty index (mFI) based on the Canadian Study of Health and Aging Frailty Index (CSHA-FI), constructed from standard demographic variables, has been applied to various other surgical populations for risk stratification. The authors hypothesized that it would be predictive of postoperative morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing spine surgery.
The 2006–2010 National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) data set was accessed for patients undergoing spine surgeries based on Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. Sixteen preoperative clinical NSQIP variables were matched to 11 CSHA-FI variables (changes in daily activities, gastrointestinal problems, respiratory problems, clouding or delirium, hypertension, coronary artery and peripheral vascular disease, congestive heart failure, and so on). The outcomes assessed were 30-day occurrences of adverse events. These were then summarized in groups: any infection, wound-related complication, Clavien IV complications (life-threatening, requiring ICU admission), and mortality.
A total of 18,294 patients were identified. In 8.1% of patients with an mFI of 0 there was at least one morbid complication, compared with 24.3% of patients with an mFI of ≥ 0.27 (p < 0.001). An mFI of 0 was associated with a mortality rate of 0.1%, compared with 2.3% for an mFI of ≥ 0.27 (p < 0.001). Patients with an mFI of 0 had a 1.7% rate of surgical site infections and a 0.8% rate of Clavien IV complications, whereas patients with an mFI of ≥ 0.27 had rates of 4.1% and 7.1% for surgical site infections and Clavien IV complications, respectively (p < 0.001 for both). Multivariate analysis showed that the preoperative mFI and American Society of Anesthesiologists classification of ≥ III had a significantly increased risk of leading to Clavien IV complications and death.
A higher mFI was associated with a higher risk of postoperative morbidity and mortality, providing an additional tool to improve perioperative risk stratification.