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Do we need a neurosurgical frailty index?

BACKGROUND: An increasing number of elderly patients now require neurosurgical intervention, and it is sometimes unclear if the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks, especially considering the confounding factor of numerous comorbidities and often poor functional states. Historically, many patients were denied surgery on the basis of age alone. This paper examines the current selection criteria being used to determine which patients get offered neurosurgical management and attempts to show if these patients have a good outcome. Particular focus is given to the increasing insight into the need to develop a neurosurgical frailty index.

METHODS: Using a prospective cohort study, this study observed 324 consecutive patients ( n ) over a 3-month period who were ≥65 years of age at the time of referral or admission to the neurosurgical department of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. It highlights the selection model used to determine if surgical intervention was in the patient's best interest and explores the reasons why some patients did not need to have surgery or were considered unsuitable for surgery. Strengths and weaknesses of different frailty indices and indicators of functional status currently in use are discussed, and how they differ between the patients who had surgery and those who did not.

RESULTS: Sixty-one (18.83%) of n were operated on in the timeframe studied. Compared to patients not operated, they were younger, less frail, and more functionally independent. The 30-day mortality of patients who had surgery was 3.28%, and despite the stringent definition of poor outcomes, 65.57% of patients had good postoperative results overall, suggesting that the present selection model for surgery produces good outcomes. The independent variables that showed the greatest correlation with outcome were emergency surgery, the American Society of Anesthesiology grade, the Glasgow Coma Scale, and modified frailty index-5.

CONCLUSION: It would be ideal to carry out future studies of similar designs with a much larger sample size with the goal of improving existing selection criteria and possibly developing a neurosurgical frailty index.

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