How Diabetes Affects Spine Surgery

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: November 9, 2016

Diabetes & Spine Surgery

Although we’re getting better at managing diabetes and preventing problems associated with the condition, there are still some areas of life where diabetes can cause issues even when precautions are taken. One of those areas is surgery. Today, we take a closer look at how diabetes affects surgical success rates.

Diabetes and Surgery

Before a person undergoes surgery, a surgeon usually goes over a list of pre-surgical care conditions that will help put the patient in the best position to have a successful surgery. Oftentimes this list focuses on areas of life that a patient can control, like their fluid intake, their dietary choices and giving up alcohol and cigarettes. For diabetics, that list also includes carefully monitoring their blood sugar levels so that they are at appropriate levels as surgery approaches.

Managing their glucose levels isn’t the only extra burden diabetics face when undergoing surgery. Statistics show that diabetics are more likely to:

  • Suffer Surgery Complications – A study of a large population of diabetics found that patients with uncontrolled diabetes had a much higher risk of cardiac complications, deep vein thrombosis and postoperative shock than the average patient.
  • Longer Hospital Stays – On average, a diabetic patient can expect to stay in the hospital after surgery for more days than the average patient, especially if their diabetes is not well managed. The same study found that patients with uncontrolled diabetes averaged 2.5 more days in the hospital after surgery than patients with well managed diabetes.
  • More Costs – It goes without saying that if your stay at the hospital is extended due to your diabetes, your total bill is going to be higher than the average patient.
  • Higher Risk of Death – The same study that analyzed surgical success in patients with controlled versus uncontrolled diabetes found that patients with uncontrolled diabetes had a much higher likelihood of dying during or as a direct result of surgery.
  • Less Surgical Relief – A separate study that analyzed pain scores and surgical success of spinal fusion in patients with and without diabetes found that diabetics had less pain relief and were more likely to have less functional improvement than patients without the condition.

At the end of the day, while there’s no way to reverse diabetes, it’s clear that successfully managing the condition prior to surgery can significantly reduce your likelihood of dealing with some of the above complications. Most diabetics understand the severity of their condition and adjust their glucose levels as needed, but it’s even more important in the days leading up to surgery. If you’re concerned about how to best manage your diabetes before a spinal operation, speak to your doctor during your initial consultation.

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