Prolonged operative duration is associated with complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to systematically synthesize the large volume of literature reporting on the association between operative duration and complications across various surgical specialties and procedure types. METHODS: An electronic search of PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from January 2005 to January 2015 was conducted. Sixty-six observational studies met the inclusion criteria. RESULTS: Pooled analyses showed that the likelihood of complications increased significantly with prolonged operative duration, approximately doubling with operative time thresholds exceeding 2 or more hours. Meta-analyses also demonstrated a 14% increase in the likelihood of complications for every 30 min of additional operating time. CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged operative time is associated with an increase in the risk of complications. Given the adverse consequences of complications, decreased operative times should be a universal goal for surgeons, hospitals, and policy-makers. Future study is recommended on the evaluation of interventions targeted to reducing operating time.


  • Cheng, Hang
  • Clymer, Jeffrey W
  • Po-Han Chen, Brian
  • Sadeghirad, Behnam
  • Ferko, Nicole C
  • Cameron, Chris G
  • Hinoul, Piet

publication date

  • September 2018