Research published in the latest issue of Surgery examines the connection between surgical outcomes and diet and suggests that what patients eat prior to a procedure may influence their recovery.
In the study (subscription required), researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital placed one group of mice on a high-fat diet, which consisted of 60 percent calories from fat, and fed a control group a more normal diet, containing 10 percent calories from fat. A few weeks prior to surgery, some of the animals on the high-fat diet were switched to the control group diet. According to a release:
During surgery, the researchers performed procedures that would occur during a typical operation and observed that such surgical trauma rapidly affected the fat tissues located both near and away from the trauma site. This resulted in increased inflammation and decreased specialized fat hormone synthesis, especially in the young adult mice and those that had a simulated wound infection.
However, reducing food intake before surgery tended to reverse these activities for all mice age groups, even in the setting of the simulated infection. The results suggest that while fat is a very dominant tissue in the human body, its ability to rapidly change might be leveraged to lessen complications in humans during stressful situations such as surgery.
Researchers say further study is needed to determine whether altering patients' nutrition might benefit their recovery by reducing "the incidence and severity of surgical complications brought on by over-exuberant inflammation and other stressors."