Postoperative complications in obese and nonobese patients

World J Surg. 2007 Mar;31(3):556-60; discussion 561. doi: 10.1007/s00268-006-0305-0.


Background: Postoperative complications are undesirable and potentially common in the increasing obese population of surgical patients. There is a scarcity of recent and reliable studies comparing postoperative morbidity and mortality in obese and nonobese patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence, pattern, and severity of postoperative complications in obese and nonobese surgical patients.

Methods: A retrospective review and analysis of adult postoperative complications recorded on an electronic database was conducted. The database covered a period of 4 years and consisted of 7,271 cases of postoperative complications that occurred within 30 days of noncardiac moderate or major surgery. Appropriate data and variables were compared between obese and nonobese patients using the SPSS program.

Results: The rate of postoperative complications was 7.7%. Obese patients had a higher prevalence of myocardial infarction (P = 0.001), peripheral nerve injury (P = 0.039), wound infection (P = 0.001), and urinary tract infection (P = 0.004). ). Morbidly obese patients had a higher mortality rate of 2.2% compared with 1.2%; for all other patients (P = 0.034) and a higher prevalence of tracheal reintubation (P = 0.009) and cardiac arrest (P = 0.015). Obese patients had higher American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status scores than other patients (P = 0.001).

Conclusions: Obese patients have a significantly higher risk of postoperative myocardial infarction, wound infection, nerve injury, and urinary infection. Obesity is an independent risk factor for perioperative morbidity, and morbid obesity is a risk factor for mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative* / mortality