Perioperative Care of the Obese Cardiac Surgical Patient

M. Megan Chacon, Sreekanth R. Cheruku, Peter J. Neuburger, Laeben Lester, Sasha K. Shillcutt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Morbid obesity is associated with impairment of cardiovascular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and renal physiology with significant perioperative consequences and has been linked with higher morbidity and mortality after cardiac surgery. Cardiac surgery patients have a higher incidence of difficult airway and difficult laryngoscopy than general surgery patients do, and obesity is associated with difficult mask ventilation and direct laryngoscopy. Positioning injuries occur more frequently because obese patients are at greater risk of pressure injury, such as rhabdomyolysis and compartment syndrome. Despite the association between obesity and several chronic disease states, the effects of obesity on perioperative outcomes are conflicting. Studies examining outcomes of overweight and obese patients in cardiac surgery have reported varying results. An “obesity paradox” has been described, in which the mortality for overweight and obese patients is lower compared with patients of normal weight. This review describes the physiologic abnormalities and clinical implications of obesity in cardiac surgery and summarizes recommendations for anesthesiologists to optimize perioperative care of the obese cardiac surgical patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1911-1921
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of cardiothoracic and vascular anesthesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • cardiac surgery
  • morbid obesity
  • obesity
  • postoperative outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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