Frailty as a predictor of adverse outcomes in Head and Neck Reconstruction: A Systematic Review

Published:November 21, 2022DOI:



      Frailty has been shown to adversely impact outcomes in a number of surgical disciplines. In head and neck reconstructive surgery, frailty may represent a significant risk factor in predicting post-operative outcomes due to the common characteristics of the patient population undergoing these procedures.


      To summarise the available evidence about frailty as a predictor of post-operative complications, length of hospital stay and quality of life, in patients undergoing head and neck reconstructive surgery.

      Study Design

      Systematic Review.


      The study protocol was registered with PROSPERO, registration CRD42022302899. Methodology was in keeping with the PRISMA Guidelines for Systematic Reviews. MEDLINE, SCOPUS, EMBASE, Web of Science and CENTRAL were the databases searched. Qualitative synthesis of the included studies was carried out and quality assessment performed.


      Nine studies, which reported data on 10,457 patients undergoing reconstruction of the head and neck were included in the review. A number of different tools were used to assess frailty, with the modified frailty index used most frequently. In total, 8 studies reported increased rates of complications in patients with increased levels of frailty, irrespective of the frailty tool used with varied levels of statistical significance across the studies.


      An association is observed between increased rates of perioperative complications and increased levels of frailty in patients undergoing head and neck reconstruction. Frailty tools may represent a useful method to risk stratify patients undergoing reconstructive head and neck surgery.


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