Quick and simple; psoas density measurement is an independent predictor of anastomotic leak and other complications after colorectal resection.
BACKGROUND: Radiologically defined sarcopenia has been shown to predict negative outcomes after cancer surgery, however radiological assessment of sarcopenia often requires additional software and standardisation against anthropomorphic data. Measuring psoas density using hospital Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS), universally available in the UK, may have advantages over methods requiring the use of additional specialist and often costly software. The aim of this study was to assess the association between radiologically defined sarcopenia measured by psoas density and postoperative outcome in patients having a colorectal cancer resection. METHODS: All patients having a resection for colorectal cancer, discussed by the colorectal multi-disciplinary team in one institution between 1/1/15 and 31/12/15, were retrospectively identified. Mean psoas density at the level of the L3 vertebra was analysed from preoperative computed tomography (CT) scans to define sarcopenia using the Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS). Postoperative complications and mortality were recorded. RESULTS: One hundred and sixty-nine patients had a colorectal resection for cancer and 140 of these had a primary anastomosis. Ninety-day mortality and 1-year mortality were 1.1% and 7.1%, respectively. Eighteen (10.7%) patients suffered a Clavien-Dindo grade 3 or 4 complication of which 6 (33%) were anastomotic leaks. In the whole cohort, sarcopenia was associated with an increased risk of Clavien-Dindo grade 3 or 4 complications [adjusted OR 6.33 (1.65-24.23) p = 0.007]. In those who had an anastomosis, sarcopenia was associated with an increased risk of anastomotic leak [adjusted OR 14.37 (1.37-150.04) p = 0.026]. CONCLUSIONS: A quick and easy radiological assessment of sarcopenia by measuring psoas density on preoperative CT scan using software universally available in the UK is highly predictive of postoperative morbidity in colorectal cancer patients.