Cognitive Function and Postoperative Outcomes in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer

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The Laryngoscope


OBJECTIVE: Determine the relationship between cognitive function and postoperative outcomes.

METHODS: This IRB-approved retrospective cohort study included all patients treated between August 2015 and March 2020 undergoing major surgery for aerodigestive cancer or cutaneous/thyroid cancer that required free-flap reconstruction at Henry Ford Hospital. Routine administration of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was completed as part of preoperative psychosocial evaluation. Outcomes included postoperative diagnosis of delirium, discharge disposition, return to the emergency department within 30 days of surgery, and readmission within 30 days of surgery. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to determine the associations between preoperative MoCA score and each outcome measure.

RESULTS: One hundred thirty-five patients with HNC were included in the study (mean [SD] age, 60.7 [±10.8] years; 70.4% [n = 95] male; 83.0% [n = 112] White, 16.3% [n = 22] Black). The average preoperative MoCA score was 23.4 (SD ± 4.5). Based on the MoCA score, 35% (n = 47) scored ≥26 (i.e., normal cognitive status), 55.6% (n = 75) scored between 18 and 25 (i.e., mild impairment), 8.1% (n = 11) scored between 10 and 17 (i.e., moderate impairment), and 1.5% (n = 2) scored <10 >(i.e., severe impairment). After adjusting for other variables, a lower MoCA score was associated with discharge disposition to a location other than home and prolonged length of hospital stay.

CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative cognitive function in patients undergoing major head and neck surgery for head and neck cancer was associated with discharge destination and length of stay.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 3 Laryngoscope, 2023.

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ePub ahead of print