Alcohol exposure as a risk factor for adverse outcomes in elective surgery

J Gastrointest Surg. 2010 Nov;14(11):1732-41. doi: 10.1007/s11605-010-1350-4. Epub 2010 Sep 14.


Background and aims: Alcohol consumption is a well-documented determinant of adverse perioperative outcome. We sought to determine the effect of active alcohol consumption following elective surgery.

Methods: We queried discharge records from the American College of Surgeons' National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP, 2005-2007) for all elective adult admissions. The 7,631 (2.5%) patients with documented alcohol use (active alcohol use of at least two drinks per day within 2 weeks of surgery; ETOH use) underwent elective surgery; 301,994 (97.5%) patients denied ETOH use. Multivariate analysis was performed with adjustments for demographic and comorbid factors. Primary outcome measures included length of stay (LOS), postoperative complications, and death.

Results: ETOH use associated with elective surgery decreased over the course of the study (p < 0.0001). ETOH use was an independent predictor of pneumonia (OR 1.98, 95% CI 1.84-2.13), sepsis (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.03-1.37), superficial surgical site infection (SSI; OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.02-1.31), wound disruption (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.11-1.80), and prolonged LOS (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.08-1.26). Except for SSI, these complications were independent risk factors for postoperative mortality. ETOH use was associated with earlier time to wound disruption (9 vs. 11 days; p = 0.04), longer median hospital stays (5 vs. 3 days; p < 0.0001), and longer LOS after operation (4 vs. 3 days; p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Active alcohol consumption is a significant determinant of adverse outcomes in elective surgery; patients with ETOH use who are scheduled to undergo elective surgery should be appropriately educated and counseled.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Elective Surgical Procedures*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult