Introduction: Gastrointestinal (GI) complications are well-recognized risks of open heart surgery. However, open heart surgery comes in different shapes and sizes with widely varying pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative pathologies. The aim of this study was to examine the etiology and risk factors for GI complications after mitral valve surgery.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of 565 patients who underwent mitral valve surgery from 2003–2005 was performed. Prospectively collected data included preoperative risk factors, cardiac status, intra-operative data, postoperative GI complications and mortality. Survival was analyzed using log-rank analysis.
Results: In this study population, 13 patients (2.3%) had 16 GI complications after mitral valve surgery resulting in an overall mortality of 0.7%. Complications included GI bleed (n = 9), cholecystitis (n = 3), perforated diverticulitis (n = 1) and ischemic bowel (n = 3). By univariate analysis, a history of hypertension, chronic renal insufficiency (CRI), hypercholesterolemia, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, cardiogenic shock, emergency valve surgery, coronary artery bypass surgery and preoperative vasopressor use were each associated with an increased incidence of GI complications (p <0.05). No increased incidence was seen in patients with atrial fibrillation. On multivariate analysis adjusted for age, cardiogenic shock (OR 8.1; 95% CI, 1.9–34.8), CRI (OR 8.1; 95% CI, 2.2–30.0) and vasopressor use (OR 6.5; 95% CI, 1.3–31.0) remained significant (p <0.02). Mean survival (3.2 vs. 5.4 years) was significantly lower (p <0.05) in those with GI complications.
Conclusions: GI complications after mitral valve surgery are infrequent, with a higher incidence in those with cardiogenic shock, CRI or requiring vasopressors. Pre-operative hemodynamic instability may be a bellwether for potential GI complications and should be of more prominent concern in this cohort of patients.
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