Purpose: This study examined risk factors for intra-abdominal sepsis after surgery in Crohn's disease.
Methods: We reviewed 343 patients who underwent 1,008 intestinal anastomoses during 566 operations for primary or recurrent Crohn's disease between 1980 and 1997. Possible factors for intra-abdominal sepsis were analyzed by both univariate (chi-squared test) and multivariate (multiple regression) analyses.
Results: Intra-abdominal septic complications, defined as anastomotic leak, intra-abdominal abscess, or enterocutaneous fistula, developed after 76 operations (13 percent). Intra-abdominal septic complications were significantly associated with preoperative low albumin level (< 30 g/l; P = 0.04), preoperative steroids use (P = 0.03), abscess at the time of laparotomy (P = 0.03), and fistula at the time of laparotomy (P = 0.04). The intra-abdominal septic complication rate was 50 percent (8/16 operations) in patients with all of these four risk factors, 29 percent (10/35 operations) in patients with three risk factors, 14 percent (14/98 operations) in patients with two risk factors, 16 percent (33/209 operations) in patients with only one risk factor, and 5 percent (11/208 operations) in patients with none of these risk factors (P<0.0001). The following factors did not affect the incidence of septic complications; age, duration of symptoms, number of previous bowel resections, site of disease, type of operation (resection, strictureplasty, or bypass), covering stoma, and number, site, or method (sutured or stapled) of anastomoses.
Conclusions: Preoperative low albumin level, steroid use, and the presence of abscess or fistula at the time of laparotomy significantly increased the risk of septic complications after surgery in Crohn's disease.