We found that controlled glucose levels really do make a difference for the patient, said study co-author Milford Marchant Jr., MD, an orthopaedic surgeon who conducted the study with colleagues of the Adult Reconstruction Section at Duke University Medical Center.

The study found that uncontrolled glucose level patients were at thrice the risk to experience stroke or death after joint replacement surgery and double the risk to experience post-operative bleeding and infection.

Dr. Marchant and his team collected data from national healthcare database involving more than one million patients who had total joint replacement surgery from 1988 to 2005. They studied the surgical outcomes in uncontrolled glucose levels patients to those who had controlled glucose levels and those patients who did not have diabetes.

It did not matter if the patient had Type I or Type II diabetes, explains Dr. Marchant. Regardless of diabetes type, we found that patients had fewer complications after surgery if their glucose level was controlled before, during and after surgery.

Surgical complications, infection, blood transfusions and longer hospitals stays were more in diabetic patients with uncontrolled glucose.

The factors necessary for diabetic patients to be considered ‘under control’ are different for each individual patient, therefore diabetic patients should have good relationships with their medical doctors, said Dr. Marchant.