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Post Operative Complications More in Obese Patients

Researchers find that obese patients have a significantly higher risk of complications following surgery, including heart attack, wound infection// , nerve injury and urinary tract infection. This new study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System.

The study, appearing in the March issue of the World Journal of Surgery, also found that morbidly obese patients had a death rate nearly twice as high as that of all other patients, as well as a higher rate of cardiac arrest.

"Our study provides further evidence of the dangers of obesity as it relates to surgery," says lead author Olumuyiwa A. Bamgbade, M.D., FRCA, a visiting instructor in the U-M Medical School's Department of Anesthesiology.

"One manifestation of this public health epidemic is that patients who are obese face a much higher likelihood of very serious problems following surgery," says co-author Olubukola O. Nafiu, M.D., FRCA, a resident in the Department of Anesthesiology.

The study, a retrospective review of adult post-operative complications from a U-M Department of Anesthesiology database from 2001 to 2005, examined and analyzed the complications of 6,773 patients. Of these, 2,217 – about one-third – were obese, and in the obese group, 993 were morbidly obese.

Bamgbade and the other researchers found much higher rates of the following complications in obese patients: heart attack, with obese patients experiencing five times the rate of attack than non-obese patients (0.5 percent versus 0.1 percent); wound infection, with a 1.7-times higher rate (6 percent versus 3.5 percent); peripheral nerve injury, with a four-times higher rate (0.4 percent versus 0.1 percent); and urinary tract infection, with a 1.5-times higher rate (3.9 percent versus 2.6 percent).

While the death rate did not vary between obese and non-obese patients, the rate was much higher for morbidly obese patients, 2.2 percent versus
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