Long-term clinical outcomes in critically ill patients with sepsis and pre-existing low muscle mass: a retrospective cohort study

Nola Darden, Sonakshi Sharma, Xue Wu, Benjamin Mancini, Kunal Karamchandani, Anthony S. Bonavia

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Purpose: Critically ill patients with sepsis account for significant disease morbidity and healthcare costs. Low muscle mass has been proposed as an independent risk factor for poor short-term outcomes, although its effect on long-term outcomes remains unclear. Methods: Retrospective cohort analysis of patients treated at a quaternary care medical center over 6 years (09/2014 - 12/2020). Critically ill patients meeting Sepsis-3 criteria were included, with low muscle mass defined by ≤ 5th percentile skeletal muscle index, measured at the L3 lumbar level (L3SMI) on Computed-Tomography (CT) scan (≤ 41.6 cm2/m2 for males and ≤ 32.0 cm2/m2 for females). L3SMI was calculated by normalizing the CT-measured skeletal muscle area to the square of the patient’s height (in meters). Measurements were taken from abdominal/pelvic CT scan obtained within 7 days of sepsis onset. The prevalence of low muscle mass and its association with clinical outcomes, including in-hospital and one-year mortality, and post-hospitalization discharge disposition in survivors, was analyzed. Unfavorable post-hospitalization disposition was defined as discharge to a location other than the patient’s home. Results: Low muscle mass was present in 34 (23%) of 150 patients, with mean skeletal muscle indices of 28.0 ± 2.9 cm2/m2 and 36.8 ± 3.3 cm2/m2 in females and males, respectively. While low muscle mass was not a significant risk factor for in-hospital mortality (hazard ratio 1.33; 95% CI 0.64 – 2.76; p = 0.437), it significantly increased one-year mortality after adjusting for age and illness severity using Cox multivariate regression (hazard ratio 1.9; 95% CI 1.1 – 3.2; p = 0.014). Unfavorable post-hospitalization discharge disposition was not associated with low muscle mass, after adjusting for age and illness severity in a single, multivariate model. Conclusion: Low muscle mass independently predicts one-year mortality but is not associated with in-hospital mortality or unfavorable hospital discharge disposition in critically ill patients with sepsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number313
JournalBMC Anesthesiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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