Intensive versus intermediate glucose control in surgical intensive care unit patients

Diabetes Care. 2014 Jun;37(6):1516-24. doi: 10.2337/dc13-1771. Epub 2014 Mar 12.


Objective: The optimal perioperative blood glucose range to improve surgical site infection (SSI) in surgical intensive care unit (ICU) patients remains unclear. We sought to determine whether the incidence of SSI is reduced by perioperative intensive insulin therapy (IT).

Research design and methods: Patients were randomly assigned to receive perioperative intensive IT, with a target blood glucose range of 4.4-6.1 mmol/L, or intermediate IT, with a target blood glucose range of 7.7-10.0 mmol/L in the surgical ICU. We defined the primary end point as the incidence of SSI.

Results: Study participants were randomly assigned to glucose control with one of two target ranges: for 225 patients in the intermediate IT group or for 222 patients in the intensive IT group, respectively. No patients in either group became hypoglycemic (<4.4 mmol/L) during their stay in the surgical ICU. In our series, the rate of SSI after hepato-biliary-pancreatic surgery was 6.7%. Patients in the intensive IT group, compared with the intermediate IT group, had fewer postoperative SSIs (9.8% vs. 4.1%, P = 0.028) and a lower incidence of postoperative pancreatic fistula after pancreatic resection (P = 0.040). The length of hospitalization required for patients in the intensive IT group was significantly shorter than that in the intermediate IT group (P = 0.017).

Conclusions: We found that intensive IT decreased the incidence of SSI among patients who underwent hepato-biliary-pancreatic surgery: a blood glucose target of 4.4 to 6.1 mmol/L resulted in lower rate of SSI than did a target of 7.7-10.0 mmol/L.

Trial registration: NCT00735228.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biliary Tract Diseases / surgery
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Liver Diseases / surgery
  • Male
  • Pancreatic Diseases / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surgical Wound Infection / metabolism
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin

Associated data