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Preoperative assessment of the older surgical patient: honing in on geriatric syndromes

Authors Kim S, Brooks AK, Groban L

Received 2 October 2014

Accepted for publication 8 November 2014

Published 16 December 2014 Volume 2015:10 Pages 13—27

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S75285

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Sunghye Kim,1 Amber K Brooks,2 Leanne Groban2

1Department of Hospital Medicine, 2Department of Anesthesiology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA

Abstract: Nearly 50% of Americans will have an operation after the age of 65 years. Traditional preoperative anesthesia consultations capture only some of the information needed to identify older patients (defined as ≥65 years of age) undergoing elective surgery who are at increased risk for postoperative complications, prolonged hospital stays, and delayed or hampered functional recovery. As a catalyst to this review, we compared traditional risk scores (eg, cardiac-focused) to geriatric-specific risk measures from two older female patients seen in our preoperative clinic who were scheduled for elective, robotic-assisted hysterectomies. Despite having a lower cardiac risk index and Charlson comorbidity score, the younger of the two patients presented with more subtle negative geriatric-specific risk predictors – including intermediate or pre-frail status, borderline malnutrition, and reduced functional/mobility – which may have contributed to her 1-day-longer length of stay and need for readmission. Adequate screening of physiologic and cognitive reserves in older patients scheduled for surgery could identify at-risk, vulnerable elders and enable proactive perioperative management strategies (eg, strength, balance, and mobility prehabilitation) to reduce adverse postoperative outcomes and readmissions. Here, we describe our initial two cases and review the stress response to surgery and the impact of advanced age on this response as well as preoperative geriatric assessments, including frailty, nutrition, physical function, cognition, and mood state tests that may better predict postoperative outcomes in older adults. A brief overview of the literature on anesthetic techniques that may influence geriatric-related syndromes is also presented.

Keywords: frailty, mobility-disability, postoperative delirium, preoperative evaluation, stress response

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