According to a study published Online First by Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, there appears to be a connection between Body Mass Index (BMI) and a 30-day mortality risk after surgical procedures. According to a study, the greatest risk of mortality occurs in individuals with a BMI of less than 23.1.

The researchers explain:

“Recent reports suggest that the prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults has increased more than 100 percent since 1990. This analysis examines the relationship between obesity (as measured by body mass index [BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared]) and surgical mortality.”

Florence E. Turrentine, P.h.D., R.N., and colleagues with the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, used date from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program in order to determine whether there might be an association between 30-day mortality and BMI among 189,533 individuals who underwent either vascular or general surgical procedures in 2005/2006 at one of 183 sites.

3,245 (1.7%) out of the 189,533 individuals included in the examination died within 30 days following surgery. The team reported that the percentage of deaths (2.8%) among individuals whose BMI was lower than 23.1 was more than two times that of the percentage of deaths (1%) among individuals whose BMI was 35.3 or higher.

Furthermore, they found that statistically there was a considerable increased risk (40%) of death among individuals who had a BMI of less than 23.1, compared to those with a BMI of between 26.3 and 29.6.

When they analyzed data by procedure category, they discovered that the highest percentage of death was among individuals who underwent laparotomy (13.9%) in comparison to those in all other categories of standard surgery.

One of the lowest overall mortality percentages (0.1%) was among patients who underwent breast lumpectomy.

In addition, they report that between BMI and procedure category there was a statistically considerable interaction, suggesting that the association between mortality and BMI was statistically different for individuals who underwent procedures, such as colostomy, musculoskeletal system procedures, upper gastrointestinal procedures, wound debridement, colorectal resection, hernia repair, among others, in comparison with individuals who underwent laparoscopy.

The researchers conclude:

“These results indicate that BMI is significant predictor of mortality within 30 days of surgery, even after adjusting for the contribution to mortality risk made by type of surgery and for a specific patient’s overall expected risk of death.”

Written by Grace Rattue