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World J Surg. 2017 Sep;41(9):2266-2279. doi: 10.1007/s00268-017-3999-2.

Radiologically Determined Sarcopenia Predicts Morbidity and Mortality Following Abdominal Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

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Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
CRUK Centre for Radiation Oncology, Radiobiology Research Institute, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, Churchill Hospital, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford, OX3 7LE, UK.
Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK.
Department of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK.



Individualised risk prediction is crucial if targeted pre-operative risk reduction strategies are to be deployed effectively. Radiologically determined sarcopenia has been shown to predict outcomes across a range of intra-abdominal pathologies. Access to pre-operative cross-sectional imaging has resulted in a number of studies investigating the predictive value of radiologically assessed sarcopenia over recent years. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to determine whether radiologically determined sarcopenia predicts post-operative morbidity and mortality following abdominal surgery.


CENTRAL, EMBASE and MEDLINE databases were searched using terms to capture the concept of radiologically assessed sarcopenia used to predict post-operative complications in abdominal surgery. Outcomes included 30 day post-operative morbidity and mortality, 1-, 3- and 5-year overall and disease-free survival and length of stay. Data were extracted and meta-analysed using either random or fixed effects model (Revman ® 5.3).


A total of 24 studies involving 5267 patients were included in the review. The presence of sarcopenia was associated with a significant increase in major post-operative complications (RR 1.61 95% CI 1.24-4.15 p = <0.00001) and 30-day mortality (RR 2.06 95% CI 1.02-4.17 p = 0.04). In addition, sarcopenia predicted 1-, 3- and 5-year survival (RR 1.61 95% CI 1.36-1.91 p = <0.0001, RR 1.45 95% CI 1.33-1.58 p = <0.0001, RR 1.25 95% CI 1.11-1.42 p = 0.0003, respectively) and 1- and 3-year disease-free survival (RR 1.30 95% CI 1.12-1.52 p = 0.0008).


Peri-operative cross-sectional imaging may be utilised in order to predict those at risk of complications following abdominal surgery. These findings should be interpreted in the context of retrospectively collected data and no universal sarcopenic threshold. Targeted prehabilitation strategies aiming to reverse sarcopenia may benefit patients undergoing abdominal surgery.

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