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Assessment may predict postoperative mobility for older patients

The tool was more accurate than other measures, researchers say, because it may be focused on elements more relevant to recovery.

By Stephen Feller
By asking patients and caregivers about 10 basic functions before surgery, researchers were able to better project recovery time and needs after an operation, according to a recent study. Photo by wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock
By asking patients and caregivers about 10 basic functions before surgery, researchers were able to better project recovery time and needs after an operation, according to a recent study. Photo by wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., April 22 (UPI) -- An assessment tool could help doctors better plan post-operative care, or avoid operations, by estimating mobility a patient will have after surgery, researchers say.

The Mobility Assessment Tool: Short Form, or MAT-sf, effectively predicted post-surgical complications, longer hospital stays and discharges to nursing homes, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center report in a study published in the journal Anesthesiology.

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The MAT-sf gauges patient and caregiver responses about the patient's ability to perform 10 common physical activities. In the study at Wake Forest, patients also had three other assessments before surgery, with researchers finding the new assessment was more effective at predicting outcome.

Improvements to what patients can expect after surgery can save money and recovery time, as well as better prepare patients, family members and caregivers for what they're in for after an operation.

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"Studies such as this will help determine future clinical pathways aimed at reducing adverse outcomes while improving patients' functionality and speeding their return to independence," Dr. Leanne Groban, a professor of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said in a press release.

For the study, the researchers recruited 197 patients 69 years or older to undergo a traditional risk assessment, five-point frailty evaluation, measurements of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and the MAT-sf.

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The researchers found the other tests may be too specific, or focused on the wrong things, as the MAT-sf results tended to be more closely associated with complications, later time to discharge and increased discharge to nursing homes than other methods of measurement.

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"Preoperative assessment of patient characteristics that may lead to adverse postoperative outcomes is important to patients, their families and their surgeons, especially with older adults, in whom complications are more likely," Groban said. "Mobility is a powerful indicator of overall health in the elderly, and our results indicate that self-reported mobility, as measured by the MAT-sf, can complement existing assessment tools in determining which patients are at risk of adverse postoperative outcomes."

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