Increased psychiatric morbidity after abdominal aortic surgery: Risk factors for stress-related disorders

Israel Liberzon, James L. Abelson, Richard L. Amdur, Anthony P. King, Jeffry D. Cardneau, Peter Henke, Linda M. Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objective: Research on surgical outcomes has focused on technical results and physical morbidity. However, postoperative psychiatric complications are common and can undermine functional results. High rates of posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder have been documented after cardiac events or surgery. These complications are also expected after abdominal aortic surgery, but their incidence and relevant risk factors in this population have not been documented. Methods: We examined the development of posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms in patients with aortic aneurysms or occlusive disease, comparing surgical with nonsurgical patients and predicting that surgery and a prolonged intensive care stay would contribute to the development of psychiatric morbidity. A consecutive sample of vascular surgery patients (n = 109) was recruited 6 months to 2 years after surgery. Data were analyzed by using group comparisons, regression, and path analyses. Results: Rates of objectively determined postoperative psychiatric morbidity were extremely high (32%). Surgical patients were more than four times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders (odds ratio, 4.8; P = .02). Being younger, having increased preoperative blood pressure, and being intubated at the end of surgery were linked to greater rates of psychiatric morbidity (P < .05), but a longer intensive care stay was not. Conclusions: New-onset psychiatric symptoms are common after abdominal aortic surgery, and preoperative and surgical factors were more predictive than postoperative complications and stress, as reflected in intensive care unit stays. Prospective examination of vulnerability in this model could identify risk factors for stress-related psychiatric morbidity and help improve surgical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-934
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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