Diabetics Do Better Right After Colorectal Surgery

In a surprising results, doctors studying surgical complications and hospital deaths after colorectal surgery found that diabetic patients do better than non-diabetics after surgery.

There was a 23 percent reduction in deaths after surgery for diabetics and 18 percent fewer complications.

Unfortunately, this improvement in outcomes did not extend to the uninsured or to people under 50.

About 219,000 patients in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) had colorectal cancer in the years between 1995 and 2005.  Fifteen percent had diabetes, one percent with complicated diabetes with serious problems like kidney disease or vision loss.

Dying in the hospital after surgery were:

  • 3.2 percent without diabetes
  • 2.5 percent with uncomplicated diabetes
  • 4.2 percent with complicated diabetes

Nitasha Anand and her colleagues concluded,

In patients undergoing colorectal cancer surgery, those with diabetes had a 23% lower mortality and fewer postoperative complications compared to non-diabetics. The mechanisms underlying this unexpected observation warrant further investigation.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Dr.Geoffrey C. Nguyen, of the University of Toronto and a lead researcher for the study said,

We were really expecting to find the opposite.

Considering the fact that uninsured and younger diabetic patients didn’t have the same advantage,  Dr. Nguyen speculated that special care before and after surgery made the difference for insured and older diabetics.

SOURCE: Anand et al.,Journal of General Internal Medicine, Online First March 30, 2010.

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