1Eryck Moskven, MD,2Raphaële Charest-Morin, MD, FRCSC,

1PGY 1, Department of Orthopaedics, Vancouver Spine Surgery Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. 2Clinical Assistant Professor, Combined Neurosurgical and Orthopaedic Spine Program, Vancouver General Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.


Abstract: Purpose: Frailty is a state of increased vulnerability. This paper reviews the definitions and applicability of frailty tools and discusses the impact of frailty in patients with spinal disease.
Recent Findings: Frailty is a significant risk factor for postoperative adverse-events (AEs), prolonged postoperative length of stay (LOS), adverse discharge disposition, and mortality following spine surgery. Cumulative deficit measures such as the mFI are appropriate risk stratification tools, while phenotypic measures are sensitive to capturing the relationship between spine disease and spine surgery on the frailty trajectory.
Summary: Frailty in patients with spinal disorders is predictive of postoperative adverse outcomes. The role of spine surgery to reverse frailty requires investigation.
Key Words: frailty, spine surgery, adverse outcomes, geriatric.

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Frailty is a state of decreased reserve and increased vulnerability associated with adverse health outcomes.
Clinical frailty measures derived from the cumulative deficit model of frailty such as the mFI are appropriate risk stratification tools for identifying patients at an increased risk of postoperative AEs following spine surgery.
Frailty tools with phenotypic constructs are the most sensitive measures in capturing the relationship between spinal pathology and surgical intervention on the frailty trajectory.
When assessing an elderly patient, the FRAIL acronym is a helpful guide to screen for frailty - F (fatigue), R (resistance/muscular weakness), A (ambulatory difficulty), I (illness and comorbidities), and L (unintentional loss of weight).
Access to a readily available clinical frailty assessment tool on a mobile device, such as the Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS), reduces the need for extensive chart review to calculate and determine frailty severity.
When assessing for surgical candidacy the clinician should evaluate the impact of spinal pathology on health-related quality of life, the magnitude of the proposed surgical intervention and the frailty status.
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