Hypophosphatemia as a Predictor of Organ-Specific Complications Following Gastrointestinal Surgery: Analysis of 8034 Patients
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Organ-specific complications (OSC) remain serious potential sequela of gastrointestinal surgery. Hypophosphatemia correlates with poor outcomes and may be a harbinger of OSC after gastrointestinal surgery. Our goal was to describe and evaluate the relationship between postoperative phosphate levels and OSC.
Consecutive patients who underwent pancreatic, colorectal, or gastric resections were analyzed. OSC were defined as those resulting from the failure of at least one anastomosis performed during the primary resection, manifesting as an anastomotic leak, fistula, and/or intra-abdominal abscess. Postoperative serum phosphate levels and other recognized OSC risk factors were compared among patients who did and did not develop OSC.
A total of 8034 patients who underwent pancreatic (n = 397), colorectal (n = 5808), or gastric (n = 1829) resections were included in the study. In each resection group, the majority of patients experienced hypophosphatemia postresection with the nadir on postoperative day (POD) 2, and the subgroups that developed OSC exhibited lower phosphate levels on POD3–7. On multivariate analysis, lower phosphate level on POD3 remained significantly associated with OSC following pancreatic resection [median (interquartile range) mmol/L, 0.65 (0.53–0.76) vs. 0.71 (0.61–0.84), p = 0.045] and colorectal resection [0.71 (0.61–0.87) vs. 0.77 (0.65–0.94), p = 0.006], and lower phosphate level on POD4 remained associated with OSC following gastric resection [0.87 (0.74–1.03) vs. 0.96 (0.81–1.13), p = 0.049].
This study identified a consistent trajectory of serum phosphate levels following 3 different gastrointestinal operations and association between early postoperative phosphate levels and OSC. Persistent lower phosphate levels should raise the level of concern for evolving postoperative leak and may lead to earlier radiographic evaluation and treatment.
Chronic kidney disease epidemiology collaboration
Glomerular filtration rate
White blood cell counts
Body mass index
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor
Enhanced recovery after surgery
Funded in part by the NIH/NCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA008748.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All authors report no conflict of interests regarding this study.
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