Frailty Is a Risk Factor for Postoperative Mortality in Patients With Cirrhosis Undergoing Diverse Major Surgeries

Nadim Mahmud, David E. Kaplan, Tamar H. Taddei, David S. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


With a rising burden of cirrhosis surgeries, understanding risk factors for postoperative mortality is more salient than ever. The role of baseline frailty has not been assessed in this context. We evaluated the association between patient frailty and postoperative risk among diverse patients with cirrhosis and determined if frailty improves prognostication of cirrhosis surgical risk scores. This was a retrospective cohort study of U.S. veterans with cirrhosis identified between 2008 and 2016 who underwent nontransplant major surgery. Frailty was ascertained using the Hospital Frailty Risk Score (HFRS). Cox regression analysis was used to investigate the impact of patient frailty on postoperative mortality. Logistic regression was used to identify incremental changes in discrimination for postoperative mortality when frailty was added to the risk prediction models, including the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD), MELD–sodium (MELD-Na), Child-Turcotte-Pugh (CTP), Mayo Risk Score (MRS), and Veterans Outcomes and Costs Associated With Liver Disease (VOCAL)–Penn. A total of 804 cirrhosis surgeries were identified. The majority of patients (48.5%) had high-risk frailty at baseline (HFRS >15). In adjusted Cox regression models, categories of increasing frailty scores were associated with poorer postoperative survival. For example, intermediate-risk frailty (HFRS 5-15) conferred a 1.77-fold increased hazard relative to low-risk frailty (HFRS, <5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-2.95; P = 0.03). High-risk frailty demonstrated a similarly increased hazard (hazard ratio, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.05-2.88; P = 0.03), suggesting a threshold effect of frailty on postoperative mortality. The incorporation of frailty improved discrimination of MELD, MELD-Na, and CTP for postoperative mortality, but did not do so for the MRS or VOCAL-Penn score. Patient frailty was an additional important predictor of cirrhosis surgical risk. The incorporation of preoperative frailty assessments may help to risk stratify patients, especially in settings where the MELD-Na and CTP are commonly applied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-710
Number of pages12
JournalLiver Transplantation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Hepatology
  • Transplantation


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