PURPOSE: There is an epidemic of obesity in the Western world and its associated substantial morbidity and mortality. This review examines the data on the impact of obesity on perioperative morbidity and mortality specifically in the context of colorectal surgery. METHODS: MEDLINE, PUBMED, and the Cochrane library were searched for relevant articles. A manual search for other pertinent papers also was performed. RESULTS: There is good evidence that obesity is a risk factor for wound infection after colorectal surgery. Obesity may increase the risk of wound dehiscence, incisional site herniation, and stoma complications. Obesity is linked to anastomotic leak, and obese patient undergoing rectal resections may be at particular risk. There is little data on the impact of obesity on pulmonary and cardiovascular complications after colorectal surgery. Operation times are longer for rectal procedures in obese patients, but hospital stay is not prolonged. Obese patients undergoing laparoscopic colorectal surgery are at increased risk of conversion to an open procedure. CONCLUSIONS: Obesity has a negative impact on outcome after colorectal surgery. To further clarify the impact of obesity on surgical outcome, it is recommended that future studies examine grades of obesity and include measures of abdominal obesity.
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