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Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2004 Jul;21(7):523-9.

Long-term postoperative mortality in diabetic patients undergoing major non-cardiac surgery.

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Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen Trial Unit, Centre for Clinical Intervention Research, Department 7102, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.



The prognosis of diabetic patients after surgery remains controversial. Some suggest that the rates of death and complications today are almost identical in diabetic and non-diabetic patients within hospital stay or for 30 days postoperatively, whereas others suggest that diabetes still constitutes a major risk factor for both short-term (< or = 30 days) and long-term (> 30 days) patients especially after major cardiac surgery. We examined the long-term postoperative mortality of diabetic patients undergoing major non-cardiac surgery to identify possible perioperative risk factors.


Data from 179 consecutive diabetic patients, who underwent major non-cardiac surgery at Herlev Hospital, Denmark, during a 12 month period, have been retrospectively analysed. Data were obtained from patient records and from The Danish National Health Register. The main outcome measure was postoperative mortality. Patients were followed for a maximum of 18 months.


The median postoperative observation period was 10 months (range 0-18 months). Overall postoperative mortality was 24% (95% confidence interval (CI) 17-31%). One third of the fatalities occurred during the first 30 days. Ischaemic heart disease diagnosed before the operation was associated with an overall postoperative mortality of 44% (95% CI 29-58%), which was significantly (P < 0.03) higher than in diabetic patients without known cardiovascular disease. The major causes of death in 18 out of 39 (46%) patients were diseases of the cardiovascular system.


Diabetic patients undergoing major non-cardiac surgery seem to have a high mortality, often because of cardiovascular death. Future strategies should focus on implementing cardio-protective treatment during the perioperative period.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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