Effect of intraoperative hyperoxia on the incidence of surgical site infections: a meta-analysis

B. Cohen, Y. N. Schacham, K. Ruetzler, S. Ahuja, D. Yang, E. J. Mascha, A. B. Barclay, M. H. Hung, D. I. Sessler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Whether supplemental intraoperative oxygen reduces surgical site infections remains unclear. Recent recommendations from the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control to routinely use high inspired oxygen concentrations to reduce infection risk have been widely criticized. We therefore performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the influence of inspired oxygen on infection risk, including a recent large trial. Methods: A systematic literature search was performed. Primary analysis included all eligible trials. Sensitivity analyses distinguished studies of colorectal and non-colorectal surgeries, and excluded studies with high risk of bias. Another post-hoc sensitivity analysis excluded studies from one author that appear questionable. Results: The primary analysis included 26 trials (N=14,710). The RR [95%CI] for wound infection was 0.81 [0.70, 0.94] in the high vs. low inspired oxygen groups. The effect remained significant in colorectal patients (N=10,469), 0.79 [0.66, 0.96], but not in other patients (N=4,241), 0.86 [0.69, 1.09]. When restricting the analysis to studies with low risk of bias, either by strict inclusion criteria (N=5,047) or by researchers’ judgment (N=12,547), no significant benefit remained: 0.84 [0.67, 1.06] and 0.89 [0.76, 1.05], respectively. Conclusions: When considering all available data, intraoperative hyperoxia reduced wound infection incidence. However, no significant benefit remained when analysis was restricted to objective- or investigator-identified low-bias studies, although those analyses were not as well-powered. Meta-analysis of the most reliable studies does not suggest that supplemental oxygen substantively reduces wound infection risk, but more research is needed to fully answer this question.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1176-1186
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • anaesthesia
  • hyperoxia
  • meta-analysis
  • surgical wound infection


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