This review assimilates and critically evaluates available literature regarding the use of metabolomic profiling in surgical decision-making.
Metabolomic profiling is performed by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy or mass spectrometry of biofluids and tissues to quantify biomarkers (ie, sugars, amino acids, and lipids), producing diagnostic and prognostic information that has been applied among patients with cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and solid organ transplants.
PubMed was searched from 1995 to 2019 to identify studies investigating metabolomic profiling of surgical patients. Articles were included and assimilated into relevant categories per PRISMA-ScR guidelines. Results were summarized with descriptive analytical methods.
Forty-seven studies were included, most of which were retrospective studies with small sample sizes using various combinations of analytic techniques and types of biofluids and tissues. Results suggest that metabolomic profiling has the potential to effectively screen for surgical diseases, suggest diagnoses, and predict outcomes such as postoperative complications and disease recurrence. Major barriers to clinical adoption include a lack of high-level evidence from prospective studies, heterogeneity in study design regarding tissue and biofluid procurement and analytical methods, and the absence of large, multicenter metabolome databases to facilitate systematic investigation of the efficacy, reproducibility, and generalizability of metabolomic profiling diagnoses and prognoses.
Metabolomic profiling research would benefit from standardization of study design and analytic approaches. As technologies improve and knowledge garnered from research accumulates, metabolomic profiling has the potential to provide personalized diagnostic and prognostic information to support surgical decision-making from preoperative to postdischarge phases of care.