Preoperative serum sodium measurements and postoperative inpatient mortality: A case-control analysis of data from the South African Surgical Outcomes Study
Background. Abnormal preoperative serum sodium measurements have been shown to be associated with increased postoperative mortality in US and European surgical populations. It is possible that such measurements are also associated with increased postoperative mortality in a South African (SA) setting, but this is yet to be confirmed. Establishing whether preoperative serum sodium measurements are associated with postoperative mortality could have implications for perioperative risk stratification in SA settings.
Objectives. To determine whether preoperative serum sodium measurements are associated with postoperative mortality in SA surgical patients.
Methods. This was an unmatched case-control study of patient data (demographics, comorbidities, procedure-related variables, and preoperative serum sodium measurements) collected during the South African Surgical Outcomes Study. Data were analysed using recommended statistical methods for unmatched case-control studies.
Results. The study population comprised 103 patients and 410 controls. Cases were defined as patients who suffered postoperative inpatient mortality, while controls were defined as patients who did not suffer postoperative inpatient mortality. Preoperative hypernatraemia (i.e. a preoperative serum sodium measurement >144 mEq/L) was independently associated with a four-fold higher risk of postoperative inpatient mortality compared with a normal preoperative serum sodium measurement of 135 - 144 mEq/L (odds ratio (OR) 4.21, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19 - 14.83, p=0.025). Preoperative hyponatraemia (i.e. a preoperative serum sodium measurement <135 mEq/L) was not independently associated with a higher or lower risk of postoperative inpatient mortality compared with a normal preoperative serum sodium measurement (OR 1.39, 95% CI 0.70 - 2.76, p=0.346).
Conclusions. Preoperative hypernatraemia, but not preoperative hyponatraemia, is a risk factor for postoperative inpatient mortality in SA surgical patients.