Blood test may predict recovery time after surgery

bloodA blood test taken prior to surgery may be able to predict recovery time in patients. The study found that identifying a patient’s immune state with blood samples before surgery may reveal patterns that can help predict recovery from post-surgery pain and dysfunction. Immune states are a patient’s response to stressors, which are released by cells during surgery, trauma or injury.

Dr. Martin Angst, study author, said, “Patients and physicians alike want to know how long pain and dysfunction will last after surgery, but the rate at which patients recover is highly variable and differs for every patient. Our research indicates that we can capture important aspects of each individual patient’s biology that accurately predict how they will handle and recover from surgery. This may ultimately enable us to provide personalized, cost-conscious approaches to aid recovery and have a major impact on perioperative medicine.”


Researchers examined whether inducing immune responses in pre-surgical blood samples correlated with recovery among 25 patients who underwent hip surgery. Pre-surgical immune state was found by inducing a signaling response similar to the immune system’s response during surgery. Immune responses were measured against outcomes contributing to recovery, including pain, hip dysfunction and disability.

Recovery time ranged from days to weeks and researchers found a strong correlation between pre-surgical immune state and the speed of recovery time. Although a correlation between pre-surgical immune state and recovery and pain and dysfunction was found, there was no correlation between prior immune state and fatigue and resulting disability.

Dr. Angst added, “Our ultimate goal is to develop a blood test that can assess key attributes of a patient’s immune system, be applied to daily clinical practice, be performed in regular clinical laboratories and be predictive of an individual patient’s recovery profile. Predictions could be used to counsel patients and manage their expectations or to stratify them prior to surgery by assigning patients at risk of slow recovery into prehabilitation programs or postponing surgery.”

Accompanying editorial author, Dr. James C. Eisenach, wrote, “The current study represents an important step forward in the prediction and potential manipulation of speed of recovery. This work will likely spur research to determine whether a high-risk group can be easily identified for interventional trials and whether preoperative or postoperative immune modulation, such as with glucocorticoids (steroids), might speed recovery.”

The findings were published in Anesthesiology.


Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.