The impact of obesity and morbid obesity on urgent/emergency colorectal resections: a regional database analysis

Surg Endosc. 2022 Mar;36(3):1876-1886. doi: 10.1007/s00464-021-08467-1. Epub 2021 Apr 6.


Background: The obesity rate is projected to reach 50% by 2030. Obesity may be modifiable prior to elective colorectal surgery, but there is no opportunity for weight loss when patients present for urgent/emergency operations. The impact of obesity focused on urgent/emergent colorectal operations has not been fully characterized. The study aim was to determine outcomes of obese patients who undergo urgent/emergency colorectal surgery and differences when compared with elective outcomes.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of 30-day outcomes for normal (BMI 18.5-25), obese (BMI 30-39.9), and morbidly obese (BMI > 40) patients in the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative between 1/1/2009 and 12/31/2018. Propensity score weighting was used to derive adjusted rates for overall morbidity, mortality, and specific complications. Primary outcome was postoperative complications (any morbidity).

Results: The study included 5268 urgent/emergency and 10,414 elective colorectal surgery patients. Postoperative complications were significantly more common in morbidly obese and obese than the normal BMI group for both urgent/emergency (morbidly obese 42.76% vs 33.75%, p = 0.003; obese 36.46% vs 33.75%, p = 0.043) and elective (morbidly obese 18.17% vs 13.36%, p = 0.004; obese 15.45% vs 13.36%, p = 0.011) operations. Surgical site infections are were significantly more common in morbidly obese and obese BMI groups as compared to normal BMI for both urgent/emergency and elective cases. Mortality was significantly higher in the morbidly obese (14.93% vs 11.44%, p = 0.013) but not obese BMI groups as compared to the normal BMI group for urgent/emergency cases. Mortality for all groups undergoing elective operations was < 1% and with no significant differences.

Conclusions: Morbid obesity and obesity are associated with complications that are largely driven by surgical site infections after both urgent/emergency and elective colorectal surgery. Obesity is a risk factor difficult to modify prior to urgent/emergency surgery. Managing complications related to obesity after colorectal surgery will be a continued challenge with projected increasing obesity rates.

Keywords: Colon and rectal; Colorectal; Emergency surgery; Morbid obesity; Obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / complications
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid* / complications
  • Obesity, Morbid* / epidemiology
  • Obesity, Morbid* / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome