Background: Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is a biomarker of systemic inflammation that is associated with adverse oncologic and surgical outcomes. We investigated the use of NLR as a prognostic indicator of complications of head and neck cancer (HNC) surgeries. Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of 11 187 Veterans who underwent HNC surgery between 2000 and 2020. We calculated preoperative NLR values and fit logistic regression models adjusting for potential confounding factors, comparing high-NLR patients to low-NLR patients. Results: The cohort had a median age of 63 and was 98% men. High-NLR patients had increased odds of 30-day mortality (p < 0.001), having 1+ perioperative complications (p < 0.001), sepsis (p = 0.03), failure to wean from mechanical ventilation (p = 0.04), pneumonia (p < 0.001), and pulmonary embolism (p = 0.02) compared with low-NLR patients. Conclusion: NLR was a robust, independent predictor of 30-day mortality, having 1+ surgical complications, sepsis, failure to wean from mechanical ventilation, pneumonia, and pulmonary embolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1903-1912
Number of pages10
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


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