Background: The impact of obesity on development of postoperative complications after gastrointestinal surgery remains controversial. This may be due to the fact that obesity has been calculated by body mass index, a measure that does not account for fat distribution. We hypothesized that waist circumference, a measure of central obesity, would better predict complications after high-risk gastrointestinal procedures. Methods: Retrospective review of an institutional cancer database identified consecutive cases of men undergoing elective rectal resections. Waist circumference was calculated from preoperative imaging. Results: From 2002 to 2009, 152 patients with mean age 65.2 ± 0.75 years and body mass index 28.0 ± 0.43 kg/m2 underwent elective resection of rectal adenoma or carcinoma. Increasing body mass index was not significantly associated with risk of postoperative complications including infection, dehiscence, and reoperation. Greater waist circumference independently predicted increased risk of superficial infections (OR 1.98, 95% CI 1.19-3.30, p < 0.008) and a significantly greater risk of having one or more postoperative complications (OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.04-2.34, p < 0.034). Conclusions: Waist circumference, a measure of central obesity, is a better predictor of short-term complications than body mass index and can be used to identify patients who may benefit from more aggressive infection control and prevention.
- Rectal cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas