Rates of perioperative complications among patients undergoing orthopedic trauma surgery despite having positive results for methamphetamine

Thomas Githens, Malcolm R. DeBaun, Sean T. Campbell, Edward J. Wu, L. Henry Goodnough, Paul Lichstein, Christopher Painter, Jeffrey E. Krygier, Julius Bishop, Michael J. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The burden of psychosocial problems, including substance abuse, is high among trauma patients. Use of illicit substances is often noted during urine toxicology screening on admission and can delay surgery because of concerns for an interaction with anesthesia. Methamphetamine theoretically has potential to increase perioperative anesthetic risks. However, the authors are unaware of any studies documenting increased rates of cardiovascular complications in the perioperative period among orthopedic trauma patients. This study sought to determine the rate of cardiovascular complications in these patients. The authors reviewed the medical records of all patients between 2013 and 2018 who underwent orthopedic trauma surgery at two level I trauma centers in the setting of a methamphetamine-positive urine toxicology screening prior to surgery. Information on demographics, injury, type of surgical intervention, and incidence of perioperative cardiovascular and overall medical complications prior to discharge was recorded. Ninety-four patients were included in the study (mean age, 44 years; range, 16-78 years). Twenty-six (28%) patients had multiple injuries. Thirteen (14%) patients had debridement and/or provisional stabilization of an open or unstable fracture, 18 (19%) had treatment for an infection, and 63 (67%) had definitive fracture surgery. The overall rates of perioperative cardiovascular complications and perioperative medical complications were 2.1% and 3.2%, respectively. This study provides both a baseline understanding of the complication rate for methamphetamine-positive orthopedic trauma patients during general anesthesia and justification for larger multicenter studies to further investigate this topic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-196
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

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