07 October 2013

Diabetics at risk for complications after surgery

Diabetes patients with high blood sugar levels are at increased risk for surgical wound-related complications after having surgery.


Diabetes patients with high blood sugar levels are at increased risk for surgical wound-related complications after having surgery to close chronic skin ulcers caused by diabetes, a small new study says.

The findings show the need for better blood sugar control in these patients before they have such surgery, the researchers noted.

Their study of 79 patients found that the risk of serious wound complications was more than three times higher among those with high blood sugar before and after surgery, and in those with poor long-term diabetes control.

The complications included wound dehiscence (re-opening of the surgical incision), wound infections and repeat surgery. Among the specific findings, wound dehiscence occurred in 44% of patients with high blood sugar levels before surgery, compared to 19% of those with good blood sugar control.

Blood sugar swings

The risk of wound dehiscence was also higher among patients with high blood sugar levels after surgery and among those with poor long-term diabetes control, according to the study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Patients with wide swings in blood sugar levels were four times more likely to require repeat surgery, according to a journal news release.

Although the study found an association between higher blood sugar levels and wound problems, it didn't establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

Episodes of high blood sugar can occur around the time of surgery even in patients with previously good diabetes control, said study authors Dr Matthew Endara and Dr Christopher Attinger, of the Centre for Wound Healing at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

They said their findings point to the importance of good blood sugar control in diabetes patients undergoing surgery, and said surgeons may need to consult with specialists to manage patients' diabetes.

The study authors also said that more research is needed to confirm whether tighter control of blood sugar levels around the time of surgery will reduce the rate of surgical wound-related complications.

More information

The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about diabetes.



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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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