Background: Frailty is a state of decreased physiologic reserve contributing to functional decline and is associated with adverse surgical outcomes, particularly in the elderly. Racial disparities have been reported previously both in frail individuals and in limb-salvage patients. Our goal was to assess whether race and ethnicity are disproportionately linked to frailty status in geriatric patients undergoing lower-limb amputation, leading to an increased risk of complications. Methods: A 3-year analysis was conducted of the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database and included all geriatric (age ≥65 years) patients who underwent amputation of the lower limb. The frailty index was calculated using the 11-factor modified frailty index with a cutoff limit of 0.27 defined for frail status. Outcomes were 30-day complications, mortality, and readmissions. Multivariate regression analysis was performed. Results: A total of 4,218 geriatric patients underwent surgical amputation of a lower extremity (above knee: 41%; below knee: 59%). Of these patients, 29% were frail, 26% were African American, and 9% were Hispanic. Being African American (odds ratio: 1.6 [1.3–1.9]) and Hispanic (odds ratio: 1.1 [1.05–2.5]) was independently associated with frail status. Frail African Americans had a higher likelihood of 30-day complications (odds ratio: 3.2 [1.9–4.4]) and 30-day readmissions (odds ratio: 2.9 [1.8–3.6]) when compared with nonfrail individuals. Similarly, frail Hispanics had higher 30-day complications (odds ratio: 2.6 [1.9–3.1]) and 30-day readmissions (odds ratio: 1.4 [1.1–2.7]) compared with nonfrail Hispanics/Latinos. Conclusion: African American and Hispanic geriatric patients undergoing lower-limb amputation are at increased risk for frailty status and, as a result, increased associated operative complications. These disparities exist regardless of age, sex, comorbid conditions, and location of amputation. Further studies are needed to highlight disparities by race and ethnicity to identify potentially modifiable risk factors, decrease frailty, and improve outcomes.
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