Head and neck cancer surgery in elderly patients: the role of frailty assessment

S. Rothman, S. Zabarqa, J. Pitaro, H. Gavriel, T. Marom, L. Muallem Kalmovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: To study whether any risk model, frailty index, patients' comorbidities, or demographic characteristics correlate with postoperative morbidity in elderly patients who underwent surgery for head and neck cancer (HNC). A secondary objective was to compare between frailty indexes that are used at our medical center. Methods: A retrospective analysis of head and neck cancer patients operated between 2007 and 2021 was performed. Results: One hundred and fifteen patients were included and divided into three age groups: 50–69 years, 70–79 years and ≥ 80 years. Although most elderly patients had a significantly higher rate of comorbidities and lower Norton scores, no statistically significant difference was found between the groups in postoperative morbidity rates, intensive care unit (ICU) or internal medicine department admissions, re-hospitalization in 1–3 months, and in falling risk (MFS—Morse Fall Scale). On multivariate analysis there was a positive correlation between preoperative cerebrovascular accident (CVA), dementia, and cardiac arrhythmias, and the probability for developing postoperative complication. The latter findings were not related to the patients' age. Conclusions: In this study, we did not find higher postoperative morbidity rates among elderly population in comparison to younger age groups, and therefore, our current evaluation system could not assist in identifying elderly at risk. However, prediction of operative risk based on physiologic reserve or frailty is an important tool in the evaluation of elderly head and neck cancer patients. Future studies are needed to assess the role of frailty index in the elderly head and neck cancer population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1447-1453
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Comorbidity
  • Elderly
  • Frailty
  • Free flap
  • Head and neck surgery
  • Postoperative complications
  • Reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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