Low triiodothyronine syndrome as a predictor of poor outcomes in patients undergoing brain tumor surgery


A low triiodothyronine (T3) state is highly prevalent and is associated with a poor prognosis in critically ill patients. The authors investigated, in patients undergoing brain tumor surgery, the direct association of a perioperative low T3 syndrome with clinical outcomes and also with symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Methods. Ninety consecutive patients (71% women, median age 55 years), on admission for brain tumor surgery, were evaluated for sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. Their thyroid function profile was assessed on the morning of brain tumor surgery and on the morning after brain tumor surgery. Patients with free T3 concentrations of 3.1 pmol/L or less were considered to have low T3 syndrome. The patients were evaluated for symptoms of depression and anxiety using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) before and after surgery and for clinical outcomes using the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) at discharge.

Results. After brain tumor surgery, free T3 concentrations decreased (p < 0.001) and the proportion of patients with low T3 levels increased from 38% to 54% (p = 0.02). Lower preoperative (rho = 0.30, p = 0.004) and postoperative (rho = 0.33, p = 0.002) free T3 concentrations correlated with low GOS scores at discharge. Preoperative low T3 syndrome (OR 5.49, 95% CI 1.27–23.69, p = 0.02) and postoperative low T3 syndrome (OR 8.73, 95% CI 1.49–51.21, p = 0.02) both increased risk for unfavorable clinical outcomes (GOS scores < 5) at discharge, after adjusting for age, sex, histological diagnosis of brain tumor, preoperative functional impairment, previous treatment for brain tumor, and depressive symptoms. Preoperative low T3 syndrome increased the risk for preoperative (HADS-depression subscale score ≥ 11; OR 4.12, 95% CI 1.16–14.58, p = 0.03) but not postoperative depressive symptoms independently from sociodemographic and clinical factors.

Conclusions. Low T3 syndrome is a strong independent predictor of unfavorable clinical outcomes and depressive symptoms, and its diagnosis and preoperative management should be considered in patients undergoing neurosurgery for the treatment of brain tumors.