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Circadian variation in unexpected postoperative death.

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  • J Rosenberg
  • M H Pedersen
  • T Ramsing
  • H Kehlet
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Unexpected deaths still occur following major surgical procedures. The cause is often unknown but may be cardiac or thromboembolic in nature. Postoperative ischaemia, infarction and sudden cardiac death may be triggered by episodic or constant arterial hypoxaemia, which increases during the night. This study examined the circadian variation of sudden unexpected death following abdominal surgery between 1985 and 1989 inclusive. Deaths were divided into those occurring during the day (08.00-16.00 hours), evening (16.00-24.00 hours) and night (24.00-08.00 hours). Twenty-three deaths were considered to have been totally unexpected. Of 16 such patients undergoing autopsy, pulmonary embolism was the cause of death in five. In the remaining 11 patients, death occurred at night in eight (P < 0.005). Five of the seven patients without an autopsy died at night (P < 0.04); overall, 13 of 18 unexpected deaths occurred at night-time. These results suggest a need for further studies of sleep- and respiration-related effects on postoperative nocturnal cardiac function. The efficacy of monitoring during this apparent high-risk period should be evaluated.
Translated title of the contributionCircadian variation in unexpected postoperative death.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Surgery
Volume79
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1300-1302
Number of pages3
ISSN0007-1323
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ID: 32524249