Postoperative mortality and complications

Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2011 Sep;25(3):319-27. doi: 10.1016/j.bpa.2011.05.003.


Recent publications not only underline the risks of age and disease during surgery but also help us quantify the risks with greater precision. Importantly, patient factors often have a stronger association with postoperative mortality than surgical factors. Important factors preoperatively are: age, American Society of Anaesthesiologist (ASA) physical status, emergency surgery, and plasma albumin concentration. There is emerging work on quantifying frailty as a further risk factor for perioperative complication and mortality as well as need for higher level of care after discharge from hospital. Important postoperative complications include sepsis and kidney injury. Preventing, detecting and managing complications and mortality is the greatest challenge facing those caring for surgical patients, including anaesthetists. Evidence for the long term effects of perioperative complications adds further importance to minimizing perioperative complications. Newer approaches in patient care, particularly co-management during the postoperative phase by different specialities are emerging. Managing high-risk patients should also be enhanced with greater surveillance and more rapid and appropriate response; ensuring we do not fail to rescue our patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / mortality*