Research Article

Failure of delayed hypersensitivity skin testing to predict postoperative sepsis and mortality.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 284 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.284.6319.851 (Published 20 March 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;284:851
  1. R Brown,
  2. J Bancewicz,
  3. J Hamid,
  4. N J Patel,
  5. C A Ward,
  6. R J Farrand,
  7. R S Pumphrey,
  8. M Irving

    Abstract

    Delayed hypersensitivity skin reactions to a battery of recall antigens, haemoglobin and albumin concentrations, arm-muscle circumference, and percentage of ideal weight were determined before operation in 244 patients undergoing elective major surgery. Depressed skin reactions were found in 70 patients (28%), but this group did not have significantly higher sepsis or mortality rates when compared with patients with normal reactions. Significant associations were found between depressed skin reactions and increasing age, anaemia, hypoalbuminaemia, low arm-muscle circumference, and low weight. Patients with benign and malignant disease had similar distributions of skin reactions. Hypoalbuminaemia was associated with a higher rate of serious postoperative sepsis, and hypoalbuminaemia, low arm-muscle circumference, and low weight were all associated with a higher mortality. These results suggest that the routine use of delayed hypersensitivity skin testing in the preoperative assessment of surgical patients is not justified.