Compared with cast treatment, surgery may expose patients with distal radius fractures to undue risk. Surgical intervention in this cohort may offer less benefit than previously thought and appropriate patient selection is imperative. The modified Frailty Index (mFI) predicts complications after other orthopedic surgeries. We hypothesized that this index would predict, and might ultimately prevent, complications in patients older than 50 years with distal radius fractures.
We retrospectively reviewed the American College of Surgeons-National Surgery Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP) database, including patients older than 50 years who underwent open reduction and internal fixation of a distal radius fracture. A 5-item mFI score was then calculated for each patient. Postoperative complications, readmission and reoperation rates, as well as length of stay (LOS) were recorded. Bivariate and multivariable statistical analysis was then performed.
We identified 6,494 patients (mean age, 65 years). Compared with patients with mFI of 0, patients with mFI of 2 or greater were nearly 2.5 times as likely to incur a postoperative complication (1.7% vs 7.4%). Specifically, the rates of Clavien-Dindo IV, wound, cardiac, and renal complications were increased significantly in patients with mFI of 2 or greater. In addition, as mFI increased from 0 to 2 or greater, 30-day reoperation rate increased from 0.8% to 2.4%, 30-day readmission from 0.8% to 4.6%, and LOS from 0.5 days to 1.44 days. Frailty was associated with increased complications as well as rates of readmission and reoperation even when controlling for demographic data, LOS, and operative time. Age alone was not significantly associated with postoperative complications, readmission, reoperation, or LOS.
A state of frailty is highly predictive of postoperative complications, readmission, reoperation, and increased LOS following open reduction and internal fixation of distal radius fractures. Our data suggest that a simple frailty evaluation can help inform surgical decision making in patients older than 50 years with distal radius fractures.