The aim of the present study was to examine whether a C-reactive protein (CRP) first approach would improve the detection rate of postoperative complications by CT.
CRP is a useful biomarker to identify major complications following surgery for colorectal cancer.
Patients with histologically confirmed colorectal cancer, who underwent elective surgery between 2008 and 2015 at a single centre were included. Exceeding the established CRP threshold of 150 mg/L on postoperative day (POD) 4 was recorded. Results of CT performed between postoperative days 4 and 14 were recorded.
Four hundred ninety-five patients were included. The majority were male (58%), over 65 (68%), with node-negative disease (66%) and underwent open surgery (70%). Those patients who underwent a CT scan (n = 93), versus those who did not (n = 402), were more likely to have a postoperative complication (84% vs 35%, P < 0.001), infective complication (67% vs 21%, P < 0.001), and anastomotic leak (17% vs 2%, P < 0.001). In patients who did not undergo a CT scan (n = 402) exceeding the CRP threshold (n = 117) on POD 4 was associated with a higher rate of postoperative complication (50% vs 29%, P < 0.001), infective complications (36% vs 15%, P < 0.001), and anastomotic leak (4% vs 0.5%, P = 0.009). In patients who did undergo a CT scan (n = 93) exceeding the CRP threshold (n = 53) on POD 4 was associated with earlier CT (median POD 6 vs 8, P = 0.001) but not postoperative complications.
A CRP first approach resulted in earlier and improved detection of complications by CT following surgery for colorectal cancer.