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Diabetes is infection risk factor for ‘most surgery types’


Patients with diabetes are at considerably increased risk of developing surgical site infections while undergoing most types of surgery, compared to non-diabetics, according to a US study.

Researchers from the University of Michigan noted that diabetes had previously been recognised as an infection risk factor following some types of surgery, but had been a source of debate for others.

“Heightened awareness among healthcare professionals of infection prevention measures is warranted for diabetic patients before and after surgery”

Emily Martin

They conducted a review, involving 94 studies, and analysed data based on estimates of diabetes, SSIs, types of procedure, blood glucose levels and body mass index.

They found diabetes patients undergoing surgery were 50% more likely to develop an SSI compared to patients without diabetes – 6% versus 4%. SSIs were found to be the most frequent cause of healthcare-associated infection, occurring in 4% of surgeries in the study.

Previous studies had found increased risk for diabetic patients during several types of surgery, but the new research confirmed that “multiple” procedure types had elevated risk of SSIs, including arthroplasty, breast, cardiac and spinal surgeries.

Lead study author Emily Martin, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said: “This study is a first step in our efforts to identify patients at high risk of SSIs.

“We hope this research will lead to better strategies to lower the number of these infections,” she said.

She added: “[US] hospitals routinely monitor glucose levels in surgical patients, but heightened awareness among healthcare professionals of infection prevention measures is warranted for diabetic patients before and after surgery.”

The study findings were published today in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Is this NEW? 'Twas ever thus.

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  • Renal tech

    I take it SSI is abbreviation for Surgical Site Infection. Come on writer you need to make it easy for your readers to understand; re Surgical Site infection (SSI).

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  • Agree with Trevor.

    No abbreviation should ever be used until the first description has been delivered in full. Good practice.

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  • To be fair, the full term was used in the first sentence, but as most of us (including myself) skim through introductory paragraphs, I didn't pay attention and had to look back to find the meaning. There should have been a set of brackets with (SSI) after the first mention. Off topic, of course.

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