Scientific principles and clinical implications of perioperative glucose regulation and control

Anesth Analg. 2010 Feb 1;110(2):478-97. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e3181c6be63.


Development of hyperglycemia after major operations is very common and is modulated by many factors. These factors include perioperative metabolic state, intraoperative management of the patient, and neuroendocrine stress response to surgery. Acute insulin resistance also develops perioperatively and contributes significantly to hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is associated with poor outcomes in critically ill and postsurgical patients. A majority of the investigations use the term "hyperglycemia" very loosely and use varying thresholds for initiating treatment. Initial studies demonstrated improved outcomes in critically ill, postsurgical patients who received intensive glycemic control (IGC) (target serum glucose <110 mg/dL). These results were quickly extrapolated to other clinical areas, and IGC was enthusiastically recommended in the perioperative period. However, there are few studies investigating the value of intraoperative glycemic control. Moreover, recent prospective trials have not been able to show the benefit of IGC; neither an appropriate therapeutic glycemic target nor the true efficacy of perioperative glycemic control has been fully determined. Practitioners should also appreciate technical nuances of various glucose measurement techniques. IGC increases the risk of hypoglycemia significantly, which is not inconsequential in critically ill patients. Until further specific data are accumulated, it is prudent to maintain glucose levels <180 mg/dL in the perioperative period, and glycemic control should always be accompanied by close glucose monitoring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / etiology
  • Hyperglycemia / therapy*
  • Hypoglycemia / etiology
  • Hypoglycemia / therapy*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Perioperative Care*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Signal Transduction


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Glucose