Answers to Common General Surgery Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about general surgery.

How is frailty diagnosed?

Dr. J. Scott Wilcher discusses how frailty is diagnosed. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

How is frailty diagnosed?

There's lots of different ways you can diagnose frailty. Probably the easiest way is just looking at somebody. Take, an example, you look at my mother. My mother is 90 years old and she's very frail. She's very thin, she's very unsteady, and it's very hard for her to get up and move across the room and come back and sit down.

And that is probably the easiest test we can do for frailty, it's called the "Get up and go test." We basically take someone from a sitting position, have them stand up, walk across the room 10 or 15 feet, and then come back and sit down. If it takes you more than 30 to 40 seconds to do that, you are frail. You are not steady on your feet, you don't have good, strong muscles, you don't have a lot of reserve. And you have to take that into account if you're talking about doing a major surgical procedure.


Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians say the best way to diagnose frailty is to observe the person.

For example, someone who is older, very thin and unsteady on their feet could be considered frail.

The “Get up and go test” is also recommended. The person doing the test starts while sitting. They stand up and are asked to walk 10 to 15 feet across the room and back. 

If it takes longer than 30 to 40 seconds, they are considered frail.

Someone who is unsteady, barely has strength to stand up, or is exhausted after the walk should also be considered for frailty, especially if they are considering a major surgery.

For more information, talk to your doctor about how frailty is diagnosed.

Source: James deCaestecker, DO, FACS, Gem City Surgical Associates; Daniel Taylor, MD, FACS, Miami County Surgeons; L. Stewart Lowry, MD, FACS, Miami County Surgeons; Luan Tran, MD, Miami Valley Surgery Associates; J. Scott Wilcher, MD, North Dayton Surgeons; Steven Sutherin, MD, FACS, Miami Valley Surgery Associates

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