Glycemic control and infections in patients with diabetes undergoing noncardiac surgery

Ann Surg. 2011 Jan;253(1):158-65. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3181f9bb3a.


Objective: Examine the relationship between perioperative glucose control and postoperative infections in a nationwide sample of diabetic patients undergoing a wide variety of surgical procedures.

Summary of background data: Perioperative glucose control has been linked to postoperative infections after selected surgical procedures.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of surgical outcomes data from 1999 to 2004 on 55,408 patients with diabetes undergoing a variety of noncardiac operations contained in the Veterans Heath Administration National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database, supplemented with the Veterans Heath Administration Decision Support Services hemoglobin A1c (HbA(₁c)) and serum glucose data. Multivariate Poisson regression model of postoperative infection including demographics, comorbidities, functional status, preoperative laboratories, surgical data, and glucose control (diabetes medications, serum glucose, HbA(₁c), mean serum glucose within 24 hours after surgery).

Results: The most common procedures were herniorrhaphy (10%), carotid endarterectomy (6.6%), and open colectomy (5.6%). Mean (SD) preoperative HbA1c concentration was 7.9% (2.3); 51% of patients had preoperative serum glucose concentrations more than 150 mg/dL; and 72% of patients had a mean 24 hour postoperative glucose concentration at least 150 mg/dL. The overall postoperative infection rate was 8.0%. Higher rates of postoperative infection were associated with mean 24 hour postoperative serum glucose concentrations of 150 to 250 mg/dL (incidence rate ratio 1.22, 95% confidence interval, 1.04-1.43; P = 0.01) and more than 250 mg/dL (incidence rate ratio: 1.43; 95% confidence interval, 1.19-1.71; P < 0.001). Preoperative HbA1c and glucose concentrations were not associated with increased infection rates.

Conclusions: In a large nationwide sample of diabetic patients undergoing a variety of noncardiac surgical procedures, glucose control in the first 24 hours after surgery was poor, and mean serum glucose concentrations of 150 mg/dL and higher during this time period were associated with increased rates of postoperative infectious complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / surgery*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Infections / blood
  • Infections / diagnosis
  • Infections / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents