Limited information exists on trends of common inflammatory markers after infant heart surgery and their role in identifying post-operative sepsis.
275 consecutive infants undergoing cardiac surgery (231 with and 44 without Cardiopulmonary Bypass) were studied prospectively. Daily trends (0–4 day post-operative) of leucocyte counts, platelet counts and C-reactive protein were recorded. Association of these trends with early post-operative bloodstream sepsis, Cardiopulmonary Bypass and surgical outcomes were studied.
Trends of these inflammatory markers were noted. While off-Cardiopulmonary Bypass Surgery, and sepsis were associated with a statisticaly insignificant rise in total leucocyte count peaking on first post-operative day, Cardiopulmonary Bypass exposure was associated with significant decline (p = 0.002), more pronounced with Cardiopulmonary Bypass-exposure exceeding 150 min. Percentage of neutrophils showed a rise (maximum on first post-operative day) but no significant association with sepsis or Cardiopulmonary Bypass.
Platelet counts significantly declined after surgery, with nadir on 2nd POD (p < 0.001), the drop being more marked in patients operated on Cardiopulmonary Bypass (p < 0.005). Counts were significantly lower in patients exposed to >150 min Cardiopulmonary Bypass compared to those with shorter Cardiopulmonary Bypass. Septic patients had significantly lower platelet counts than uninfected patients, decline >2 SD from mean pre-operative level strongly associated with sepsis (p < 0.001).
C-Reactive Protein levels rose markedly after surgery, peaking on 2nd POD; levels were significantly higher if operated on Cardiopulmonary Bypass. Cardiopulmonary Bypass >150 min was associated with lower mean C-Reactive Protein on first post-operative day, but significantly higher values on third and fourth post-operative days, as compared to Cardiopulmonary Bypass <150 min. Comparison of infected versus non-infected patients showed significantly higher mean C-Reactive Protein in the former group.
While leucocyte count, platelet count and C-Reactive Protein emerged as useful markers of post-operative inflammatory response and reaction to Cardiopulmonary Bypass, they proved unsatisfactory predictors of early post-operative sepsis.