International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 22, Issue 12, pp 1499–1507 | Cite as

C-reactive protein as early predictor for infectious postoperative complications in rectal surgery

  • T. Welsch
  • S. A. Müller
  • A. Ulrich
  • A. Kischlat
  • U. Hinz
  • P. Kienle
  • M. W. Büchler
  • J. Schmidt
  • B. M. Schmied
Original Article



This study evaluated the role of the acute phase C-reactive protein (CRP) in the postoperative course of a large series of rectal resections on the basis of a prospective database. Main focus of this study was the early identification of complications.

Materials and methods

Three hundred eighty-three rectal resections with primary anastomosis for rectal cancer were screened for infectious postoperative complications. Forty-eight complicated cases were identified and matched with 48 patients with an uneventful postoperative course.


In the postoperative setting, CRP peaked on postoperative day (POD) 2 with a median serum CRP of 140 mg/l and gradually declined thereafter in uncomplicated cases. In complicated cases, CRP elevation generally persisted after POD 2, whereas white blood cells and body temperature were within normal range in the early postoperative period. A cutoff CRP value of 140 mg/dl on PODs 3 and 4 resulted in predictive values of 85.7 and 90.5% (adjusted to the prevalence: 37.6 and 50.3%), sensitivities of 80.0 and 54.3%, and specificities of 81.0 and 92.3% for a complicated postoperative course (P < 0.001), respectively.


Persistent CRP elevation and elevation of serum CRP above 140 mg/dl on PODs 3–4 are predictive of infectious postoperative complications and should prompt intense clinical search for an inflammatory process, especially for an anastomotic leak if pneumonia and wound infection are unlikely or excluded.


C-reactive protein Rectal surgery Postoperative complications Anastomotic leak 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Welsch
    • 1
  • S. A. Müller
    • 1
  • A. Ulrich
    • 1
  • A. Kischlat
    • 1
  • U. Hinz
    • 2
  • P. Kienle
    • 1
  • M. W. Büchler
    • 1
  • J. Schmidt
    • 1
  • B. M. Schmied
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General SurgeryUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Unit for Documentation and StatisticsUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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