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Metformin Use in Type 2 Diabetics and Delirium After Noncardiac Surgery: A Retrospective Cohort Analysis.

INTRODUCTION: The cause of postoperative delirium is unknown, but it is thought to result at least in part from inflammation. Metformin, besides its hypoglycemic properties, demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects systemically and in the brain. We tested the primary hypothesis that chronic metformin use in adults with type 2 diabetes is associated with less delirium during the first 5 days after major noncardiac surgery. Secondary outcomes were a composite of serious complications (myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, stage 2-3 acute kidney injury [AKI], and mortality) and time to discharge alive.

METHODS: We considered adults with type 2 diabetes who did or did not routinely use metformin daily and had noncardiac surgery. Delirium was assessed by Confusion Assessment Method for Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU) or brief Confusion Assessment Method (bCAM) for 5 postoperative days. Postoperative AKI was defined by Kidney Disease Improving Global Guidelines. Logistic regression and generalized estimating equation models accounted for within-patient correlation across multiple surgeries and explored the association between metformin use and postoperative delirium and complications. Inverse propensity score weighting and propensity score calibration (PSC) adjusted for confounding variables.

RESULTS: No significant difference was observed in the incidence of postoperative delirium between the 2 groups, with 260 of 4744 cases (5.5%) among metformin users and 502 of 5918 cases (8.5%) cases in nonmetformin users, for an odds ratio of 0.88 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.73-1.05; P = .155), number-needed-to-expose = 118 patients. Similarly, there were fewer composite complications in metformin users (3.3%) than in nonusers (11.7%); However, the common-effect odds ratio of 0.67 was not statistically significant (97.5% CI, 0.39-1.17; P = .106). Discharge from the hospital was significantly faster in patients who took metformin (3 [interquartile range, IQR, 1-5] days for metformin users and 3 [IQR, 2-6] days for nonmetformin users), with a hazard ratio of 1.07 for early discharge, and tight CIs (1.01-1.13).

CONCLUSIONS: Chronic metformin use was associated with slightly and nonsignificantly less delirium. However, patients who used metformin had clinically meaningfully fewer major complications, mostly stage 2 to 3 kidney injury. While not statistically significant, the reduction was substantial and warrants further investigation because there is currently no effective preventive measure for perioperative renal injury. Benefit would be especially meaningful if it could be produced by acute perioperative treatment. Finally, metformin was associated with faster hospital discharge, although not by a clinically meaningful amount.

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