Thirty-six surgical procedures were performed on 29 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Nineteen cases involved active lupus at the time of surgery and 11 were performed on an emergent basis. Most patients had multiple organ involvement and were on some form of systemic therapy at the time of surgery. Thirty-seven postoperative complications were confined to 20 of these cases. Comparing this complicated group with the remaining 16 uncomplicated cases, the patients in the former group had a higher mean dose of steroid preoperatively, more organ involvement by SLE, and more frequent renal involvement; a higher percentage of the cases in this group were emergent rather than elective. The majority of factors examined failed to show predictive value in the outcome of surgery in lupus patients. We conclude that surgical complications are frequent in SLE patients and have identified four factors predictive of increased morbidity.
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