July 17, 2007 / 9:30 PM / 12 years ago

Trauma complication rates high among diabetics

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Diabetics hospitalized for trauma experience more severe complications than their non-diabetic counterparts, study results suggest.

Dr. Robert A. Cherry and colleagues at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, obtained data from the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study database for patients treated between 1984 and 2002. Their findings appear in the Archives of Surgery.

Among nearly 300,000 entries in the database, there were 12,489 patients with diabetes, who were matched by gender, age, and injury severity with the same number of non-diabetic patients.

Patients with diabetes were more likely to have at least one complication. More diabetics than non-diabetics required treatment in an intensive care unit and diabetic patients required longer stays in such units.

Death rates, however, were unaffected by diabetes status, Cherry and his colleagues found.

The risk for infectious complications — including urinary tract infection, wound infection, or bedsores — was roughly twice as likely among diabetics as among patients without diabetes. Significantly increased rates of lung, heart, and kidney complications were noted as well.

The higher rate of complications in diabetics with trauma injuries may be related to alterations in the immune system, blood sugar control or pre-existing conditions, the investigators suggest.

Because diabetes treatment and blood sugar control have improved in recent years, they point out that studies are needed to evaluate these effects in patients with diabetes who are hospitalized for trauma.

SOURCE: Archives of Surgery, July 2007.

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