Preoperative Cardiac Evaluation: When Should the Surgeon Consult the Cardiologist?

Department of Surgery, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Jichi Medical School, 3311-1 Yakushiji, Minami-kawachi, Tochigi, 329-0498, Japan.
Surgery Today (Impact Factor: 1.53). 02/2006; 36(5):425-35. DOI: 10.1007/s00595-005-3169-2
Source: PubMed


We compiled a manual aimed at reducing preoperative cardiac assessment costs and defining the roles of surgeons and cardiologists. We tested prospectively and retrospectively if this manual achieved these goals.
Using the Guidelines for Perioperative Cardiovascular Evaluation for Noncardiac Surgery of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) / American Heart Association (AHA), and other articles as a reference, we compiled the Jichi Medical School Hospital (JMSH) Manual in September 2002. This manual contains a novel checklist and flowcharts and includes all past and present cardiac disorders, complications, abnormalities in electrocardiograms (ECGs) and chest X-rays, and evaluation of daily activity. Using this manual, we prospectively studied 1087 surgical candidates from September 2002 to August 2003, and retrospectively analyzed 927 surgical candidates from September 2001 to August 2002.
In the prospective study, 39 (3.6%) patients were deemed to require further cardiac assessment and 4 (0.37%) suffered postoperative complications. In the retrospective study, 108 (11.7%) were deemed to require further cardiac assessment and 20 (2.2%) suffered postoperative complications. Using this manual reduced preoperative cardiac examination costs by 1323,600 Japanese yen, representing a 70.5% reduction.
The JMSH Manual defines the roles of surgeons and cardiologists and is useful for assessing preoperative cardiac function and surgical risks. This manual dramatically reduced the costs associated with preoperative cardiac examinations.

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    ABSTRACT: The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) provided perioperative evaluation and management guidelines for assessing cardiac risk in noncardiac surgery. Even if previously validated as safe and effective in risk stratification, there is often a gap between clinical practice and the recommendations of the ACC/AHA guidelines. We evaluated the impact of strict application of ACC/AHA guidelines for cardiac risk assessment of patients undergoing elective noncardiac vascular surgery in a consultant anaesthesiologist-led preoperative clinic. One hundred and sixty-four consecutive patients who underwent elective vascular surgery after ACC/AHA guidelines implementation (from September 2004 to May 2005) were enrolled in the study and compared with a historical group of 166 patients operated from April 2002 to September 2002. Preoperative resources utilization (cardiologic consultations, non-invasive diagnostic tests, coronary angiograms, coronary revascularizations) and clinical events [all-cause death, acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and acute myocardial ischaemia] occurring within 30 days after surgical procedure were compared. Guidelines implementation reduced preoperative cardiologic consultations by 21% (P < 0.001) and preoperative non-invasive diagnostic testing by 11% (P = 0.01), and increased utilization of preoperative beta-blockers by 13% (P = 0.01). Preoperative coronary angiograms (2% versus 4%) and coronary revascularizations (3% versus 2%) and all-cause death (1% versus 2%), AMI (2% versus 1%) and acute myocardial ischaemia (4% versus 2%) during follow-up were similar in both groups. Implementation of the ACC/AHA guidelines for cardiac risk assessment prior to noncardiac surgery in a consultant anaesthesiologist-led preoperative clinic reduced preoperative resources utilization, improved medical treatment and preserved a low rate of perioperative cardiac complications.
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the availability of guidelines for preoperative cardiology consultations, their efficacy in real clinical practice remains unknown. Furthermore, there are concerns that overused cardiology consultations can lead to unnecessary investigations, prolonged hospital stays, and even cancellation of necessary surgery. In this retrospective study, we investigated: (i) the potential impact of the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology algorithm and (ii) the potential of this algorithm for preventing unnecessary evaluation. We examined the cardiology consultation requests for 712 patients scheduled for elective surgery. Our analysis included: (i) patient characteristics, (ii) abnormalities revealed by the consultant, (iii) impact of these abnormalities on clinical decision making and therapy modification. The most common reason for consultation was 'pre-operative evaluation' (80.9%). Although our cardiologists revealed an abnormality in 67.8% and recommended further work up in 58.7% of our patients, they contributed to the clinical course in only 36.9%. Moreover, when the algorithm was applied to 'routine pre-operative evaluation' requests lacking a specific question, only 7.6% of these consultation requests required further investigation. Preoperative cardiology consultation seems to be overused. Although the fear of missing important issues leads surgeons to use a decreased threshold for pre-operative consultation requests, such a non-specific manner of pre-operative consultation request causes unnecessary investigations and decreased cost-effectiveness. Furthermore, the detection of any clinical abnormality by cardiologists surprisingly adds little to clinical decision making.
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