Loss of Independence in Older Patients after Operation for Colorectal Cancer

Susan L. Gearhart, Eric M. Do, Oluwafemi Owodunni, Alodia A. Gabre-Kidan, Thomas Magnuson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Disease-free survival is the cornerstone for colorectal cancer outcomes. Maintenance of independence may represent the preferred cancer outcome in older patients. Frailty and cognitive impairment are associated with adverse clinical outcomes after operation in patients ≥65 years. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of frailty and cognitive impairment on loss of independence (LOI) among colorectal cancer patients. Study Design: From 2016 to 2018, patients undergoing operation for colorectal cancer and having geriatric-specific American College of Surgeons NSQIP variables recorded were included. Frailty was assessed using the modified frailty index. Loss of independence was defined by the need for assistance with activities of daily living. Complications were assessed using the Clavien-Dindo (CD) scoring system. Multivariable analyses examining LOI, length of stay (LOS), and 30-day postoperative complication and readmission were performed. Results: There were 1,676 patients included. Preoperatively, 118 (7%) patients reported cognitive impairment, 388 (23%) patients used a mobility aid, and 82 (5%) patients were partially or totally dependent. Loss of independence upon discharge was seen in 344 (20.5%) patients and was independently associated with an increase in LOS (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.44, 95% CI 1.30 to 1.59) and major complication (odds ratio [OR] 1.86, 95% CI 1.36 to 2.53). Risk factors predictive of LOI upon discharge were increasing age, cognitive impairment, use of mobility aid, and postoperative delirium. In patients ≥80 years old, 93 (18%) had LOI at 30 days. Risk factors predictive of LOI at 30 days included a preoperative mobility aid, postoperative delirium, and the need for a new mobility aid. Conclusions: One of 5 older patients undergoing operation for colorectal cancer experience LOI, and risk factors include a decline in cognition and mobility. Future studies should evaluate risks for long-term LOI and explore interventions to optimize this patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-582
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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