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Open Access Research article

The impact of performance status and comorbidities on the short-term prognosis of very elderly patients admitted to the ICU

Fernando G Zampieri12* and Fernando Colombari1

Author Affiliations

1 Unidade de Terapia Intensiva, Hospital Alemão Oswaldo Cruz, Rua João Julião, 133, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

2 Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Medicine Discipline, Hospital das Clínicas, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

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BMC Anesthesiology 2014, 14:59  doi:10.1186/1471-2253-14-59

Published: 22 July 2014



Patients ≥80 years of age are increasingly being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The impact of relevant variables, such comorbidities and performance status, on short-term outcomes in the very elderly is largely unknown. Few studies address the calibration of illness severity scores (SAPS3 score) within this population. We investigated the risk factors for hospital mortality in critically ill patients ≥80 years old, emphasizing performance status and comorbidities, and assessed the calibration of SAPS3 scores in this population.


1129 very elderly patients admitted to a tertiary ICU in Brazil during a two-year period were retrospectively included in this study. Demographic features, reasons for admission, illness severity, comorbidities (including the Charlson Comorbidity Index) and a simplified performance status measurement were obtained. After univariate analysis, a multivariate model was created to evaluate the factors that were associated with hospital mortality. Alternatively, a conditional inference tree with recursive partitioning was constructed. Calibration of the SAPS3 scores and the multivariate model were evaluated using the Hosmer-Lemeshow test and a calibration plot. Discrimination was assessed using a receiver operating characteristics curve.


On multivariate analysis after stepwise regression, only the SAPS3 score (OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.06-1.10), Charlson Index (OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.07-1.27), performance status (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.05-2.64 for partially dependent patients and OR 2.39, 95% CI 1.38-4.13 for fully dependent patients) and a non-full code status (OR 11.74, 95% CI 6.22-22.160) were associated with increased hospital mortality. Conditional inference tree showed that performance status and Charlson Index had the greatest influence on patients with less severe disease, whereas a non-full code status was prominent in patients with higher illness severity (SAPS3 score >61). The model obtained after logistic regression that included the before mentioned variables demonstrated better calibration and greater discrimination capability (AUC 0.86, 95% CI 0.83-0.89 versus AUC 0.81, 95% CI 0.78-0.84, respectively; p < 0.001) than the SAPS3 score alone.


Performance status and comorbidities are important determinants of short-term outcome in critically ill elderly patients ≥80 years old. The addition of simple background information may increase the calibration of the SAPS3 score in this population.

Octogenarians; Critical care; Short-term prognosis; Performance status