Postoperative infections after brain surgery are a serious complication potentially worsening the outcome of surgical treatment. Severe intraoperative hyperglycemia (SIH) contributes to both infectious and noninfectious postoperative complications. However, there are a lack of data on the incidence of SIH in patients undergoing elective neurosurgical brain procedures and its association with the risk of postoperative infections.
A total of 514 patients were prospectively enrolled in this single-center observational cohort clinical study to assess the incidence of SIH (blood glucose concentration [BGC] ≥180 mg/dL) in adult patients undergoing elective brain neurosurgical procedures and its association with postoperative infections. Both nondiabetic and diabetic patients were included in the study. BGC was determined by whole-blood analyses taken at the beginning and at the end of the surgery. Diagnosis of infection (wound, pulmonary, blood stream, urinary tract infection, or central nervous system infection) was established according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria within the first postoperative week.
SIH was recorded in at least 1 blood sample in 23 patients (4.5%). Infectious complications within the first postoperative week were diagnosed in 40 patients (7.8%). Five of 23 patients (22%) with SIH had postoperative infections, compared with 35 of 491 patients (7%) without SIH (odds ratio [OR] = 3.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.24–11.09; P = .018 after fitting a multiple logistic regression model to adjust for age, body mass index [BMI], and surgery duration). Intraoperative BGC >140 mg/dL was also associated with an increased risk of postoperative infections (OR = 3.10; 95% CI, 1.43–6.75; P = .004). Elevated preoperative glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) concentration was also associated with postoperative infections in the study population (OR = 2.4; 95% CI, 1.02–6.00; P = .045). Age, BMI, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status, type of surgery, and duration of intervention had no significant association with the postoperative infection rate.
SIH is associated with a higher risk of infections within the first postoperative week in patients undergoing elective brain neurosurgical procedures. Preoperative HbA1c is a reliable marker of the potential risk both of SIH and postoperative infections in the selected cohort. Future studies need to assess possible improvements in outcome under more precise monitoring and tighter control of perioperative hyperglycemia.