Senior Scholars Program


Clostridium difficile infection after colorectal surgery: a rare but costly complication

UMMS Affiliation

Senior Scholars Program; School of Medicine; Department of Surgery

Faculty Mentor

Karim Alavi, MD/Surgery

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Clostridium difficile; Colorectal Surgery; Cost-Benefit Analysis; Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous; Female; Follow-Up Studies; Hospital Costs; Humans; Length of Stay; Male; Middle Aged; Prevalence; Prognosis; Retrospective Studies; Risk Assessment; Risk Factors; Surgical Wound Infection; Time Factors; United States; Young Adult




BACKGROUND: The incidence and virulence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) are on the rise. The characteristics of patients who develop CDI following colorectal resection have been infrequently studied.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We utilized the University HealthSystem Consortium database to identify adult patients undergoing colorectal surgery between 2008 and 2012. We examined the patient-related risk factors for CDI and 30-day outcomes related to its occurrence.

RESULTS: A total of 84,648 patients met our inclusion criteria, of which the average age was 60 years and 50% were female. CDI occurred in 1,266 (1.5%) patients during the years under study. The strongest predictors of CDI were emergent procedure, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and major/extreme APR-DRG severity of illness score. CDI was associated with a higher rate of complications, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, longer preoperative inpatient stay, 30-day readmission rate, and death within 30 days compared to non-CDI patients. Cost of the index stay was, on average, $14,130 higher for CDI patients compared with non-CDI patients.

CONCLUSION: Emergent procedures, higher severity of illness, and inflammatory bowel disease are significant risk factors for postoperative CDI in patients undergoing colorectal surgery. Once established, CDI is associated with worse outcomes and higher costs. The poor outcomes of these patients and increased costs highlight the importance of prevention strategies targeting high-risk patients.

DOI of Published Version



J Gastrointest Surg. 2014 Oct;18(10):1804-11. doi: 10.1007/s11605-014-2600-7. Epub 2014 Aug 5. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of gastrointestinal surgery : official journal of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract


Nichole Cherng participated in this study as a medical student as part of the Senior Scholars research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID