Background: Albumin is an important protein that transports hormones, fatty acids, and exogenous drugs; it also maintains plasma oncotic pressure. Albumin is considered a negative active phase protein because it decreases during injuries and sepsis. In spite of other factors predicting surgical outcomes, the effect of pre and postoperative serum albumin to surgical complications can be assessed by calculating the percentage decrease in albumin (delta albumin). This study aimed to explore perioperative serum albumin as a predictor of adverse outcomes in major abdominal surgeries.
Methods: All eligible adult participants from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre Surgical Department were enrolled in a convenient manner. Data were collected using a study questionnaire. Full Blood Count (FBP), serum albumin levels preoperatively and on postoperative day 1 were measured in accordance with Laboratory Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Data was entered and analyzed using STATA version 14. Association and extent of decrease in albumin levels as a predictor of surgical site infection (SSI), delayed wound healing and death within 30 days of surgery was determined using ordinal logistic regression models. In determining the diagnostic accuracy, a Non-parametric Receiver Operating Curve (ROC) model was used. We adjusted for ASA classification, which had a negative confounding effect on the predictive power of the percent drop in albumin to adverse outcomes.
Results: Sixty one participants were studied; the mean age was 51.6 (SD16.3), the majorities were males 40 (65.6%) and post-operative adverse outcomes were experienced by 28 (45.9%) participants. In preoperative serum albumin values, 40 (67.8%) had lower than 3.4 g/l while 51 (91%) had postoperative albumin values lower than 3.4 g/l. Only 15 (27.3%) had high delta albumin with the median percentage value of 14.77%. Delta albumin was an independent significant factor associated with adverse outcome (OR: 6.68; 95% CI: 1.59, 28.09); with a good predictive power and area under ROC curve (AUC) of 0.72 (95% CI 0.55 0.89). The best cutoff value was 11.61% with a sensitivity of 76.92% and specificity of 51.72%.