OBJECTIVE: To explore whether preoperative oral carbohydrate (CHO) loading could achieve a reduction in the occurrence of postoperative infections.
BACKGROUND: Hyperglycemia may increase the risk of infection. Preoperative CHO loading can achieve postoperative glycemic control.
METHODS: This was a randomized, controlled, multicenter, open-label trial. Nondiabetic adult patients who were candidates for elective major abdominal operation were randomized (1:1) to a CHO (preoperative oral intake of 800 mL of water containing 100 g of CHO) or placebo group (intake of 800 mL of water). The blood glucose level was measured every 4 hours for 4 days. Insulin was administered when the blood glucose level was >180 mg/dL. The primary endpoint was the occurrence of postoperative infection. The secondary endpoint was the number of patients needing insulin.
RESULTS: From January 2011 through December 2015, 880 patients were randomly allocated to the CHO (n = 438) or placebo (n = 442) group. From each group, 331 patients were available for the analysis. Postoperative infection occurred in 16.3% (54/331) of CHO group patients and 16.0% (53/331) of placebo group patients (relative risk 1.019, 95% confidence interval 0.720-1.442, P = 1.00). Insulin was needed in 8 (2.4%) CHO group patients and 53 (16.0%) placebo group patients (relative risk 0.15, 95% confidence interval 0.07-0.31, P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Oral preoperative CHO load is effective for avoiding a blood glucose level >180 mg/dL, but without affecting the risk of postoperative infectious complication.