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In Frontiers in public health

Background : Sepsis remains the leading cause of postoperative death in elderly patients and is defined as organ dysfunction with proven or suspected infection according to Sepsis-3 criteria. To better avoid potential non-linear associations between the risk factors, we firstly used a tree-based analytic methods to explore the putative risk factors of geriatric sepsis based on the criteria in the study.

Methods : Data of 7,302 surgical patients aged ≥ 65 years at the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University from January 2015 to September 2020 were collected. An analytic method that combined tree-based analysis with the method of Mantel-Haenszel and logistic regression was adopted to assess the association between 17 putative risk factors and postoperative sepsis defined by the Sepsis-3 guideline by controlling 16 potential confounding factors.

Results : Among the 16 potential covariates, six major confounders were statistically identified by the tree-based model, including cerebrovascular diseases, preoperative infusion of red blood cells, pneumonia, age ≥ 75, malignant tumor and diabetes. Our analysis indicated that emergency surgery increases the risk of postoperative sepsis in elderly patients by more than six times. The type of surgery is also a crucial risk factor for sepsis, particularly transplantation and neurosurgery. Other risk factors were duration of surgery > 120 min, administration of steroids, hypoalbuminemia, elevated creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, hematocrit, platelets, glucose, white blood cell count, abnormal neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio and elevated hsCRP-to-albumin ratio.

Conclusions : Our study uses an effective method to explore some risk factors for postoperative sepsis in elderly by adjusting many potential confounders and it can provide information for intervention design.

Peng Xiaorong, Chen Chaojin, Chen Jingjing, Wang Yanlin, Yang Duo, Ma Chuzhou, Liu Zifeng, Zhou Shaoli, Hei Ziqing


classification and regression tree, elderly, risk factors, sepsis, tree-based analysis