Purpose: People with epilepsy are more likely than healthy people to experience comorbidities and complications in various medical situations. However, the prevalence of postoperative complications, mortality, and use of medical resources in surgical patients with epilepsy has not been studied. The purpose of this study is to examine whether epilepsy is an independent risk factor for postoperative adverse outcomes of patients receiving major surgery.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study using the National Health Insurance Research Database to identify patients with epilepsy who underwent major surgery in Taiwan between the years 2004 and 2007. For each case, four age- and sex-matched participants without epilepsy were included. Preoperative comorbidities in the 24 months before surgery were identified. Eight major postoperative complications, overall 30-day mortality, and in-hospital utilization of medical resources (including length of hospital stay, percentage of postoperative intensive care unit admissions, and in-hospital medical expenditures) served as the major outcome measurements. Comorbidities, status of receiving renal dialysis, teaching hospital status, types of surgery, and patients living in urban or rural areas were adjusted by multivariate logistic regression.
Key Findings: A total of 13,103 participants with epilepsy and 52,412 without were included. Patients with epilepsy have significantly more preoperative comorbidities and demonstrated more risks of any postoperative complications (odds ratio 2.02, 95% confidence interval 1.90–2.14). Consumption of in-hospital medical resources was also significantly higher in patients with epilepsy, but no significant differences in postoperative mortality rates between the two groups were noted.
Significance: Stroke was identified as the most significant postoperative complication for surgical patients with epilepsy. Patients, especially those with previous hospitalization or emergency visits due to the disease, confronted significantly higher postoperative complication rates, and consumed more in-hospital medical resources without differences in overall mortality rates. Further revision of health care standards to provide early recognition of postoperative complications and better management for surgical patients with epilepsy is needed.