Background: Chronological age per se cannot be considered a prognostic risk factor for outcomes after elective surgery, whereas frailty could be. A simple and easy-to-get marker for frailty, such as handgrip strength (HGS), may support the surgeon in decision for an adequate healthcare plan. Aims: The aims of this study were to: (1) determine the prevalence of frailty in an abdominal surgery setting independent of age; (2) evaluate the predictive validity of HGS for the length of hospital stay (LOS). Methods: This is a retrospective study conducted in subjects who underwent abdominal surgical procedures. Only subjects with complete cognitive, functional, nutritional assessments and available measurement of HGS at admission were included. A final cohort of 108 patients were enrolled in the study. Results: Subjects had a mean age of 67.8 ± 15.8 years (age range 19-93 years old) and were mostly men. According to Fried's criteria, 17 (15.7%, 4F/13 M) were fit, 58 (23.7%; 24F/34 M) were pre-frail and 33 (30.6%; 20F/13 M) were frail. As expected, HGS significantly differed between groups having frail lower values as compared with pre-frail and fit persons (fit: 32.99 ± 10.34 kg; pre-frail: 27.49 ± 10.35 kg; frail: 15.96 ± 9.52 kg, p < 0.0001). A final regression analysis showed that HGS was significantly and inversely associated with LOS (p = 0.020) independent of multiple covariates, including age. Discussion: Most of the population undergoing abdominal surgery is pre-frail or frail. The measurement of handgrip strength is simple and inexpensive, and provides prognostic information for surgical outcomes. Muscle strength, as measured by handgrip dynamometry, is a strong predictor of LOS in a surgical setting.
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