Anaemic patients at higher risk of death following major surgery

PATIENTS with anaemia, even in mild form, have an increased risk of dying within the first month after major non-cardiac surgery, research shows.

Pre-operative anaemia is a known risk factor for adverse outcomes in cardiac surgery, but its impact on other major surgery was unknown.

US researchers examined records of > 200,000 patients from a surgical outcomes registry, 30% of whom had pre-operative anaemia.

They found the condition increased post-operative mortality by around 40% whether it was mild or moderate to severe. Post-operative morbidity was also 35% higher in those with pre-operative anaemia.

“At least in elective surgical cases, the treatment of pre-operative anaemia before surgical intervention should be strongly considered,” the authors said.

Lancet 2011; online 6 Oct