Skip to content


Critical Care

Open Access

Long-term survival after surgical intensive care admission: 50% die within 10 years

  • T Timmers1,
  • M Verhofstad1,
  • K Moons2 and
  • L Leenen2
Critical Care200913(Suppl 1):P515

Published: 13 March 2009


Surgical PatientDiagnostic GroupMajor DisadvantageOncological PatientDisease Category


ICU treatment of surgical patients comes along with major disadvantages that have to be justified by an acceptable short-term and long-term outcome. Short-term effects of ICU treatment have been well documented, but this is the first study to describe the long-term effect in a large cohort after surgical ICU admission on survival.


Of all surgical patients admitted to the ICU of a single hospital between 1995 and 2000, patient characteristics, disease category, APACHE II score and survival were prospectively registered. A continuous follow up until 6 to 11 years after discharge was achieved.


Of the 1,822 patients included, 936 (51%) had died. Fifty-two patients were lost to follow up. Overall ICU and inhospital mortalities were 11% and 16%. Age, gender, APACHE II score and surgical diagnosis were independently associated with long-term survival. Mortality increased with age of admittance to the ICU, whereas female patients had a lower chance of dying (Figure 1). Long-term mortality rates in various surgical diagnostic groups varied between 29% for trauma and 70% for oncological patients. In gastrointestinal, oncological, general surgical and/or high-aged patients this negative effect even exceeds 5 years. In general, 10 years after ICU discharge the survival was only 50%. The mortality ratio was increased twofold in comparison with the general population.
Figure 1

abstract P515


Survival after ICU treatment follows distinct patterns in which age, gender, surgical diagnosis and APACHE II score are independent determinants. A negative effect of an ICU stay appears to be long lasting.

Authors’ Affiliations

St Elisabeth Hospital, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Universitry Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands


© Timmers et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.