The prognostic significance of postoperative hyperbilirubinemia in cardiac surgery: systematic review and meta-analysis

Dev Raveendran, Jahan C. Penny-Dimri, Reny Segal, Julian A. Smith, Mark Plummer, Zhengyang Liu, Luke A. Perry

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Background: Hyperbilirubinemia following cardiac surgery is a common phenomenon and is of emerging interest in prognostic factor research. This systematic review and meta-analysis evaluated the association between post-operative hyperbilirubinemia (PH) and mortality and morbidity in cardiac surgery patients. Methods: Ovid Medline and Ovid Embase were searched from inception to July 2020 for studies evaluating the prognostic significance of PH following cardiac surgery. Maximally adjusted odds ratios (OR) with associated confidence intervals were obtained from each study and pooled using random effects inverse variance modelling to assess in-hospital mortality. Standardised mean differences were pooled to assess Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and hospital length of stay (LOS). Qualitative analysis was performed to assess ventilation requirements and long-term mortality. Meta-regression was used to assess inter- and intra-study heterogeneity. Results: 3251 studies satisfied the selection criteria, from which 12 studies incorporating 3876 participants were included. PH significantly predicted in-hospital mortality with a pooled OR of 7.29 (95% CI 3.53, 15.09). Multiple pre-defined covariates contributed to the prognostic significance of PH, however only aortic cross-clamp time (p < 0.0001) and number of transfusions (p = 0.0001) were significant effect modifiers. PH significantly predicted both ICU LOS (Mean difference 1.32 [95% CI 0.04–2.6]) and hospital LOS (Mean difference 1.79 [95% CI 0.36–3.21]). Qualitative analysis suggested PH is associated with increased post-operative ventilation requirements and reduced long-term survival rates. Conclusions: Hyperbilirubinemia is a cost-effective, widely available prognostic marker of adverse outcomes following cardiac surgery, albeit with residual sources of heterogeneity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Hyperbilirubinemia
  • Jaundice
  • Length of stay
  • Prognostic biomarkers

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