Are diabetic patients at greater risk for anastomotic leaks and mortality when undergoing colectomies?

One discussion this week included postoperative anastomotic leaks.

Reference: Ziegler MA, et al. Risk factors for anastomotic leak and mortality in diabetic patients undergoing colectomy: analysis from a statewide surgical quality collaborative. Archives of Surgery. 2012 Jul;147(7):600-605. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.2012.77.

Summary: In a database review of patients in Michigan who underwent colectomy, the study aimed to determine risk factors in diabetic patients that are associated with increased postcolectomy mortality and anastomotic leak.

Primary risk factors were diabetes mellitus, hyperglycemia, steroid use, and emergency surgery. Of the 5123 patients, 889 were diabetic, 4234 were nondiabetic.

Diabetes alone was not found to be a risk factor for anastomotic leak in this study.

  • 56% of diabetic patients had preoperative glucose levels of 140 mg/dL or higher
  • Preoperative steroid use led to increased rates of anastomotic leak in diabetic patients
  • Diabetic patients who had a leak had more than a 4-fold higher mortality (26.3% vs 4.5%, P<.001) compared with nondiabetic patients (6.0% vs 2.5%, P<.05).
  • Mortality was associated with hyperglycemia for nondiabetic patients only

The authors conclude that improved screening may identify high-risk patients who would benefit from perioperative intervention.

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