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Kidney Int. 2002 Aug;62(2):585-92.

Modest serum creatinine elevation affects adverse outcome after general surgery.

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Division of Cardiac Research, Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Colorado, USA.



Modest preoperative serum creatinine elevation (1.5 to 3.0 mg/dL) has been recently shown to be independently associated with morbidity and mortality after cardiac surgery. It is important to know if this association can be applied more broadly to general surgery cases.


Multivariable logistic regression analyses of 46 risk variables in 49,081 cases from the Veterans Affairs National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, undergoing major general surgery from 10/1/96 through 9/30/98.


Thirty day mortality and several cardiac, respiratory, infectious and hemorrhagic morbidities were significantly (P < 0.001) higher in patients with a serum creatinine>1.5 mg/dL. With multivariable analysis, the adjusted odds ratio for mortality for patients with a serum creatinine of 1.5 to 3.0 mg/dL was 1.44 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.22 to 1.71] and for creatinine>3.0 mg/dL was 1.93 (95% CI 1.51 to 2.46). The adjusted odds ratio for morbidity (one or more postoperative complications) for patients with a serum creatinine of 1.5 to 3.0 mg/dL was 1.18 (95% CI 1.06 to 1.32) and for creatinine>3.0 mg/dL was 1.19 (95% CI 0.99 to 1.43). Further stratification and recursive partitioning of creatinine levels revealed that a serum creatinine level>1.5 mg/dL was the approximate threshold for both increased morbidity and mortality.


Modest preoperative serum creatinine elevation (>1.5 mg/dL) is a significant predictor of risk-adjusted morbidity and mortality after general surgery. A preoperative serum creatinine of 1.5 mg/dL or higher is a readily available marker for potential adverse outcomes after general surgery.

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