Nutritional status and post-operative complications in patients undergoing surgery for advanced pharyngeal or laryngeal cancer

Teresa Brown, Anna Edwards, Alice Pashley, Belinda Lehn, Sarju Vasani, Robert Hodge, Judith Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Malnutrition is an important prognostic indicator of post-operative outcomes in patients undergoing surgery for head and neck cancer, however, limited studies utilize validated nutrition assessment tools to accurately assess risk. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between nutritional status on post-operative complications and length of stay for patients undergoing either a laryngectomy, pharyngectomy or pharyngolaryngectomy for head and neck cancer. Methods: Patients with head and neck cancer undergoing a laryngectomy, pharyngectomy or pharyngolaryngectomy at a tertiary hospital in Australia were eligible for this retrospective cohort study (n = 40). Nutritional status was assessed by the dietitian on admission using the validated Subjective Global Assessment tool. Clinical outcomes were collected via retrospective chart review and included length of stay and post-operative complications. Results: Pre-operative malnutrition incidence was 40%. Malnourished patients had higher incidences of any type of complication (57% vs 44%, p = 0.013) and pressure injury (86% vs 14%, p = 0.011) compared to well-nourished patients. Well-nourished patients had a clinically important shorter median length of stay compared to malnourished patients (17.5 vs 20 days). Conclusion: Early identification and management of malnutrition is essential to minimize risk of post-operative complications and reduce length of stay and should be considered a key component of prehabilitation programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5531–5538
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2023


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutrition
  • Post-operative complications
  • Pressure injury

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