Impact of lipid emulsion containing fish oil on outcomes of surgical patients: Systematic review of randomized controlled trials from Europe and Asia

Chen Wei, Jiang Hua, Cai Bin, Karen Klassen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aimed to systematically review the clinical efficacy of lipid emulsion containing fish oil in surgical patients. Methods: Medline, SCI, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Chinese Biomedicine Database were searched for studies published before January 1, 2009 that were randomized controlled trials for postoperative patients. Parenteral nutrition with or without fish oil emulsion was the only difference between the intervention and control groups. Methodologic quality assessment was based on the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.0.1 and Jadad's score scale. RevMan 5.0 statistical software was used for meta-analysis. Results: Six trials met all inclusion criteria and were enrolled for final meta-analysis. The aggregated results of the trails showed that fish oil was associated with no mortality advantage. There was a significant reduction in infectious complications in patients receiving fish oil (relative risk 0.49, 95% confidence interval 0.26-0.93, P=0.03). The result on length of hospital stay showed a trend of shortening by 3.06 d associated with receiving fish oil. However, the difference was not significant. When excluding one obviously heterogeneous study and aggregating the other three remaining studies, results showed significantly shortening of length of hospital stay associated with receiving fish oil. Fish oil also significantly shortened length of stay in the intensive care unit by 2.07 d. Conclusion: The administration of lipid emulsion containing fish oil to patients undergoing elective major operations improves outcomes. The infectious complications are significantly fewer and length of hospitalization significantly shortened for patients treated with lipid emulsion containing fish oil. Further well-designed randomized controlled trials are needed to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of lipid emulsion containing fish oil to postoperative patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-481
Number of pages8
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Fish oil
  • Lipid emulsion
  • Outcomes
  • Parenteral nutrition
  • Postoperative patient
  • Systematic review

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