The Effect of Sarcopenia on Postoperative Outcomes Following Emergency Laparotomy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nia Humphry*, M. Jones, S. Goodison, B. Carter, J. Hewitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Emergency laparotomy procedures have high rates of postoperative mortality and morbidity in older patient. Sarcopenia is associated with poor postoperative outcomes in elective surgeries and there is growing evidence for its use as a risk predictor in the emergency setting. The study aimed to evaluate the effect of sarcopenia on postoperative mortality and morbidity following emergency laparotomy. Five electronic databases were systematically searched (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Web of Science) from conception until the 14th February 2022. All prospective cohort studies were included. Risk of bias was assessed with the Newcastle-Ottawa score. Pooled meta-analyses were estimated using the Mantel-Haenszel and inverse-generic variance method for mortality and morbidity outcomes. Eleven retrospective cohort studies were included, of which ten were included in the meta-analysis comprising of 3492 patients (1027 sarcopenic, 2465 non-sarcopenic). The study level incidence of sarcopenia ranged from 24.6 to 50.3% with a median rate of 25.1%. Sarcopenia was associated with increased 30-day mortality (OR 2.36, 95% CI, 1.66, 3.37, I2 = 43%), 90-day mortality (OR 2.51, 95% CI, 1.79, 3.52, I2 = 0%), and length of hospital stay (in days) (MD 1.18, 95% CI, 0.42, 1.94, I2 = 0%, P=0.002), but not incidence of postoperative major complications (OR 1.49, 95% CI, 0.86, 2.56, I2 = 70%, P = 0.15). Sarcopenia predicts poor outcomes following emergency laparotomy. We suggest assessment of sarcopenia should be incorporated into acute surgical assessment to identify high risk patients and inform clinical decision-making prior to an emergency laparotomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-310
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Frailty and Aging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • emergency laparotomy
  • Sarcopenia
  • surgery

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