The preoperative use of anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha (anti-TNF) in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients undergoing surgery has been controversial due to concern for increased risks of postoperative complications. We aimed to determine the effect of preoperative anti-TNF therapy on postoperative complications in IBD patients undergoing abdominal surgery.
A literature search of Google Scholar, PubMed, The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and CINAHL was performed through October 2019. Studies reporting postoperative complication rates of Crohn’s disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC), and IBD-unspecified patients with preoperative anti-TNF treatment undergoing abdominal surgery compared to controls without preoperative anti-TNF treatment were included. The main outcomes measured were overall, infectious, and noninfectious postoperative complications.
Forty-one studies totaling 20 274 patients were included. There was a significant increase in overall complications in all patients treated with anti-TNF vs. controls [odds ratio (OR) = 1.13, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01-1.25, P = 0.03, I = 6%] with an absolute risk increase (ARI) of 5.5% and a number needed to harm (NNH) of 18. There was also a significant increase in infectious complications in CD patients (OR = 1.44; 95% CI 1.02-2.03, P = 0.04, I = 49%, ARI = 5.5%, NNH = 20) only. Contrastingly, there was a significant increase in noninfectious complications in all patients (OR = 1.44, 95% CI 1.13-1.85, P = 0.003, I = 8%, ARI = 6.4%, NNH = 16) and UC patients (OR = 1.57, 95% CI 1.15-2.14, P = 0.005, I = 25%, ARI = 8.5%, NNH = 12) only.
Preoperative use of anti-TNF agents in IBD patients undergoing abdominal surgery is associated with increases in overall postoperative complications in all patients, infectious postoperative complications in CD patients, and noninfectious postoperative complications in UC patients.