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Br J Anaesth. 2009 Nov;103(5):637-46. doi: 10.1093/bja/aep279.

Goal-directed haemodynamic therapy and gastrointestinal complications in major surgery: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

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Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Unit, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, University of Bari, Policlinico, Piazza G. Cesare 11, 70124 Bari, Italy.


Postoperative gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction is one of the most frequent complications in surgical patients. Most cases are associated with episodes of splanchnic hypoperfusion due to hypovolaemia or cardiac dysfunction. It has been suggested that perioperative haemodynamic goal-directed therapy (GDT) may reduce the incidence of these complications in cardiac surgery, and other surgery, but clear evidence is lacking. We have undertaken a meta-analysis of the effects of GDT on postoperative GI and liver complications. A systematic search, using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and The Cochrane Library databases, was performed. Sixteen randomized controlled trials (3410 participants) met the inclusion criteria. Data synthesis was obtained using odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) by random-effects model. Statistical heterogeneity was assessed by Q and I2 statistics. GI complications were ranked as major (required radiological or surgical intervention or life-threatening condition) or minor (no or only pharmacological treatment required). Major GI complications were significantly reduced by GDT when compared with a control group (OR, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.27-0.65). Minor GI complications were also significantly decreased in the GDT group (OR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.17-0.50). Treatment did not reduce hepatic injury rate (OR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.19-1.55). Quality sensitive analyses confirmed the main overall results. In patients undergoing major surgery, GDT, by maintaining an adequate systemic oxygenation, can protect organs particularly at risk of perioperative hypoperfusion and is effective in reducing GI complications.

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