Incidence, predictors and outcomes of postoperative coma: An observational study of 858 606 patients

Jessica Newman, Kathryn Blake, Jordan Fennema, David Harris, Amy Shanks, Michael S. Avidan, Max B. Kelz, George A. Mashour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Context Coma is a state of profound unresponsiveness that can occur as a serious perioperative complication. The study of risk factors for, and sequelae of, postoperative coma has been limited due to the rarity of the event. OBJECTIVE To determine the incidence, risk factors and impact of postoperative coma in a large patient population. DESIGN Observational study using a prospectively gathered national dataset. PATIENTS Data from 858 606 patients were analysed. Main Outcome Measures The incidence of postoperative coma of more than 24-h duration was identified. Logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors and develop a risk model of postoperative coma in derivation and validation cohorts; 30-day mortality was also analysed. Results The incidence of postoperative coma was 0.06%. Multivariate analysis revealed the following independent predictors: liver disease, systemic sepsis, age at least 63 years, renal disease, emergency operation, cardiac disease, hypertension, prior neurological disease, diabetes mellitus and BMI 25 to 29.99 kgm-2 (protective). These predictors were incorporated into a risk index classification; odds ratios for postoperative coma increased from 2.5 with one risk factor to 18.4 with three. Coma was associated with 74.2% all-cause mortality; coma associated with cardiac arrest had a 1.9-fold higher mortality. Conclusion: This is the largest study of postoperative coma ever reported and will be useful for determining risk of coma of more than 24 h duration when evaluating an unresponsive patient following surgery. Data on prognosis will aid medical and ethical decision-making for the comatose surgical patient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean journal of anaesthesiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


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