Older patients account for a significant proportion of patients undergoing colorectal cancer surgery and are vulnerable to a number of preoperative risk factors that are not often present in younger patients. Further, three preoperative risk factors that are more prevalent in older adults include frailty, sarcopenia, and malnutrition. Although each of these has been studied in isolation, there is little information on the interplay between them in older surgical patients. A particular area of increasing interest is the use of urine metabolomics for the objective evaluation of dietary profiles and malnutrition.
Herein, we describe the design, cohort, and standard operating procedures of a planned prospective study of older surgical patients undergoing colorectal cancer resection across multiple institutions in the United Kingdom. The objectives are to determine the association between clinical outcomes and frailty, nutritional status, and sarcopenia.
The procedures will include serial frailty evaluations (Clinical Frailty Scale and Groningen Frailty Indicator), functional assessments (hand grip strength and 4-meter walk test), muscle mass evaluations via computerized tomography morphometric analysis, and the evaluation of nutritional status via the analysis of urinary dietary biomarkers. The primary feasibility outcome is the estimation of the incidence rate of postoperative complications, and the primary clinical outcome is the association between the presence of postoperative complications and frailty, sarcopenia, and nutritional status. The secondary outcome measures are the length of hospital stay, 30-day hospital readmission rate, and mortality rate at days 30 and 90.
Our study was approved by the National Health Service Research Ethics Committee (reference number: 19/WA/0190) via the Integrated Research Application System (project ID: 231694) prior to subject recruitment. Cardiff University is acting as the study sponsor. Our study is financially supported through an external, peer-reviewed grant from the British Geriatrics Society and internal funding resources from Cardiff University. The results will be disseminated through peer-review publications, social media, and conference proceedings.
As frailty, sarcopenia, and malnutrition are all areas of common derangement in the older surgical population, prospectively studying these risk factors in concert will allow for the analysis of their interplay as well as the development of predictive models for those at risk of commonly tracked surgical complications and outcomes.

©Nia Angharad Humphry, Thomas Wilson, Michael Christian Cox, Ben Carter, Marco Arkesteijn, Nicola Laura Reeves, Scott Brakenridge, Kathryn McCarthy, John Bunni, John Draper, Jonathan Hewitt. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (https://www.researchprotocols.org), 17.08.2021.