Perioperative lymphocytopenia predicts mortality and severe complications after intestinal surgery

Marco Chiarelli, Pietro Achilli, Fulvio Tagliabue, Ariberto Brivio, Angelo Airoldi, Angelo Guttadauro, Francesca Porro, Luca Fumagalli


Background: Patterns of white blood cells differential count with low lymphocyte number have been associated with poor outcome following sepsis, burns and trauma. Lymphocytopenia, measured preoperatively or in response to surgical stress, may affect complications after bowel resection.
Methods: Clinical characteristics and white blood cells differential count values, measured both pre- and post-operatively of a cohort of patients submitted to intestinal resection and anastomosis from June 2014 to June 2017 in our General Surgery Division, were retrospectively analyzed. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine the dependence of mortality and postoperative complications from the clinical characteristics of patients and white blood cells differential count values.
Results: A total of 301 consecutive patients were studied; 165 (54.8%) were male; mean age was 70 years. Overall, the rate of in-hospital 30-day mortality was 4%. Post-operative morbidity was observed in 124 (41.2%). On multivariate analysis, age adjusted Charlson Comorbidity Index, low preoperatively lymphocyte count, high preoperative monocyte count, high postoperative neutrophil count and anastomotic leak were independently associated with increased in-hospital mortality. Preoperative lymphocytopenia and rectal resection were independently associated with high morbidity rate, while low postoperative lymphocyte count was associated with an increased risk of anastomotic leak.
Conclusions: Perioperative lymphocytopenia is associated with 30-days mortality, severe complications and anastomotic leak after bowel resection surgery. These routinely available laboratory data could help to identify patients at high-risk for developing complications.