Association of Obesity With Septic Complications After Major Abdominal Surgery: A Secondary Analysis of the RELIEF Randomized Clinical Trial

Usha Gurunathan, Ivan L. Rapchuk, Marilla Dickfos, Peter Larsen, Andrew Forbes, Catherine Martin, Kate Leslie, Paul S. Myles

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: Body mass index (BMI) has been the most common obesity measure to assess perioperative risk; however, cardiometabolic risk is associated with the burden of visceral fat. Definitive evidence on the association of visceral fat measures, such as waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), with postoperative complications is lacking. Objective: To compare the value of waist circumference with the value WHR and BMI in predicting adverse outcomes, including major septic complications and persistent disability, following major abdominal surgery. Design, Setting, and Participants: This planned secondary analysis of the Restrictive vs Liberal Fluid Therapy for Major Abdominal Surgery (RELIEF) randomized clinical trial took place at 47 centers in 7 countries between October 2013 and September 2016, with 90-day follow-up. A total of 2954 adult RELIEF participants were coenrolled in this secondary analysis. Data analysis took place from December 2018 to September 2019. Exposures: Waist circumference, WHR, and BMI measurements. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were 30-day major septic complications and 90-day persistent disability or death. Results: Of 2954 eligible participants, 2755 were included (mean [SD] age, 65.9 [12.9] years; 1426 [51.8%] men) in the final analysis. A total of 564 participants (20.6%) experienced at least 1 major septic complication within 30 days after surgery (sepsis, 265 [9.7%]; surgical site infection, 409 [14.9%]; anastomotic leak, 78 [2.8%]; pneumonia, 104 [3.8%]). Waist circumference had a statistically significantly larger odds ratio (OR) and discrimination indices as well as a smaller prediction error than WHR or BMI for 30-day major septic complications or death (waist circumference: OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.28-1.62; P < .001; area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.641; net reclassification index, 0.266; integrated discrimination improvement [score × 104], 152.98; Brier score, 0.162; WHR: OR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.03-1.28; P = .01; area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.621; net classification index, 0.199; integrated discrimination improvement [score × 104], 28.47; Brier score, 0.164; BMI: OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.17-1.50; P < .001; area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.629; net reclassification index, 0.205; integrated discrimination improvement [score × 104], 85.61; Brier score, 0.163) but not for any other outcomes. Conclusions and Relevance: In this secondary analysis of the RELIEF randomized clinical trial, waist circumference was observed to be superior to other adiposity indices in predicting 30-day major septic complications alone or in conjunction with death following elective major abdominal surgery. Findings suggest that waist circumference is a useful adiposity measure that should be incorporated in preoperative risk assessment for such complications. Trial Registration: identifier: NCT01424150.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1916345
Number of pages12
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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