Trauma/Critical Care| Volume 158, ISSUE 2, P420-427, August 2015

Anxiolytic medication is an independent risk factor for 30-day morbidity or mortality after surgery


      This study examined the effects of the use of anxiolytic medications (AXM) and antidepressant medications (ADMs) on outcomes after noncardiac surgery.

      Study design

      A single-center review of prospectively obtained, perioperative and 30-day outcome data, including AXM and ADM use at admission, as part of the National Surgery Quality Improvement Program.


      Of the 1846 patients undergoing surgery, 380 (20.6%) were taking an ADM, 288 (15.6%) AXM, 124 (6.7%) were taking both, and 545 (29.5%) were taking either at the time of admission. Both ADM and AXM patients more often were female than nonusers, had a greater American Society of Anesthesiologists class and suffered more from hypertension, COPD, and dyspnea (all P < .005). AXM patients also were more often smokers. ADM patients had a greater mortality and a greater risk of an infective complication, but these effects did not remain after adjustment for procedure and comorbid risks. Patients taking AXM had greater duration of stay, as well as an increased incidence of return to the operating room, infections, wound occurrences, and cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events (all P < .005). After adjustment, AXM was associated with greater combined major morbidity or mortality (odds ratio 1.72, 95% confidence interval 1.08–2.73, P = .023).


      AXM was used by 16% of patients in our institution undergoing a noncardiac operation and was an independent risk factor for poorer short-term outcome after surgery. ADM was found to be used by 21% of patients but was not an independent risk factor for poor outcome.
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