While rigorous glycemic control is important for all diabetic patients, it’s especially important after surgery. Better glycemic control after surgery reduces the rate of bacterial infections; and high post-surgery BGs often lead to more infections.
Sherita Hill-Gordon, MD, and other researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution studied the records of 411 diabetic patients who had undergone coronary bypass surgery a five-year period. Nearly 25% developed one or more infections after surgery (with four cases ending in death). Those with blood glucose levels of 206 mg/dL or lower were 17% less likely to get an infection than those with blood sugars between 230 and 252.
Farah Parvez, MD, an epidemiologist in the Division of Hospital Infection at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that increased blood glucose levels are common in post-operative patients. She believes a BG level of 200 ml/dL or lower will ensure the best outcome. Hill-Gordon suggests placing diabetic patients on insulin therapy immediately after surgery. The first 36 hours after surgery are critical, she says, with infection rates rising in tandem with blood sugars.
Findings of the study were reported in the December 1999 issue of Diabetes Management.