Prediction of serious postoperative complications by using standard anthropometric and biochemical nutritional variables was attempted in 225 patients admitted for major abdominal surgery. In 102 of the patients hand-grip dynamometry was also measured, and this proved the most sensitive test, predicting complications in 48 of the 55 patients (87%) who developed them (p < 0.001). Arm muscle circumference and forearm muscle circumference below 85% of the standard value were also of predictive value (p < 0.02 and p < 0.01 respectively); weight for height and serum albumin concentrations were less satisfactory, while weight loss of more than 10% was not significantly related to complications. Dynamometry is a useful, rapid, and inexpensive screening test for detecting malnutrition that is likely to predispose to serious postoperative morbidity.
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