Page last updated: August 16, 2013
Alcohol drinking does not affect postoperative surgical site infection or anastomotic leakage

Research from the Department of Surgery, Bispebjerg Hospital, in Copenhagen, Denmark, states that alcohol abuse appears to increase postoperative complications, but clinical trials have reported conflicting results. The objective of their systematic review and meta-analysis is to clarify how alcohol drinking affects postoperative surgical site infection and anastomotic leakage and to determine the impact of perioperative alcohol intervention.

Meta analyses were performed on observational studies assessing surgical site infection and anastomotic leakage for alcohol drinkers and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) studying perioperative alcohol interventions.

Fifteen observational studies and 2 RCTs were identified from the MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL databases. Meta-analyses were performed for alcohol drinkers vs nondrinkers and moderate drinkers (≤2 U/day), respectively. No difference between alcohol drinkers and nondrinkers was found. When drinkers and moderate drinkers were compared, a significantly higher incidence of surgical site infection and anastomotic leakage was found in unadjusted studies. In the meta-analysis of studies adjusting for smoking and age, alcohol drinking did not significantly affect surgical site infection and anastomotic leakage. The RCTs did not show any effect of perioperative alcohol abstinence or pharmacological withdrawal treatment on outcome. The authors conclude that alcohol drinking is not an independent risk factor for surgical site infection and anastomotic leakage. Interventions which aim to make patients quit alcohol or treat withdrawal symptoms do not seem to affect the surgical outcomes of interest.

Source: Drinking does not Affect Postoperative Surgical Site Infection or Anastomotic Leakage: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Shabanzadeh DM, Sørensen LT. Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. 07/12/2013.

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