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Frailty and anesthesia – risks during and post-surgery

Authors Lin HS, McBride, RL, Hubbard RE

Received 28 April 2018

Accepted for publication 30 May 2018

Published 5 October 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 61—73

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/LRA.S142996

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Stefan Wirz


Hui-Shan Lin,1,2 Rebecca L McBride,2,3 Ruth E Hubbard1,2

1Centre for Research in Geriatric Medicine, University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; 2PA-Southside Clinical Unit, School of Clinical Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; 3Department of Anaesthesia, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Abstract: Frailty is a state of decreased physiologic reserve and resistance to stressors. Its prevalence increases with age and is estimated to be 26% in those aged above 85 years. As the population ages, frailty will be increasingly seen in surgical patients receiving anesthesia. Here, we evaluate the instruments which have been developed and validated for measuring frailty in surgical patients and summarize frailty tools used in 110 studies linking frailty status with adverse outcomes post-surgery. Frail older people are vulnerable to geriatric syndromes, and complications such as postoperative cognitive dysfunction and delirium are explored. This review also considers how frailty, with its decline of organ function, affects the metabolism of anesthetic agents and may influence the choice of anesthetic technique in an older person. Optimal perioperative care includes the identification of frailty, a multisystem and multidisciplinary evaluation preoperatively, and discussion of treatment goals and expectations. We conclude with an overview of the emerging evidence that Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment can improve postoperative outcomes and a discussion of the models of care that have been developed to improve preoperative assessment and enhance the postoperative recovery of older surgical patients.

Keywords: frail, elderly, surgery, perioperative medicine, adverse outcomes

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