Publish in this journal
Journal Information
Vol. 61. Issue 1.
Pages 97-98 (January 2008)
Download PDF
More article options
Vol. 61. Issue 1.
Pages 97-98 (January 2008)
DOI: 10.1016/S1885-5857(08)60078-X
Full text access
The Preoperative Electrocardiogram: Meaningless Routine or Essential Tool?
Electrocardiograma preoperatorio: ¿rutina inútil o herramienta esencial?
Eduardo Alegría Ezquerraa, Eduardo Alegría Barreroa, Ana Alegría Barreroa
a Departamento de Cardiología y Cirugía Cardiovascular, Clínica Universitaria de Navarra, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain
This item has received
(Daily data update)
Article information
Full Text
Download PDF
Tables (1)
Figure 1. Procedure put forward for preoperative assessment. *The corresponding criteria are outlined in the text.
Full Text

To the Editor,

The clinical assessment prior to any surgical intervention is generally carried out by an anaesthesiologist, however, in many cases the cardiologist is also required given that the cardiovascular risk has the greatest clinical and prognosis significance in the majority of interventions. The electrocardiogram (ECG) is a firmly established element of the preoperative cardiological assessment.

Official guidelines on clinical practice1 take it for granted that the ECG forms part of the basic preoperative assessment, in addition to risk stratification using the normal scales.2 They even state that an abnormal ECG determines the need for a cardiological consultation. It has been shown that the simple classification of preoperative ECGs into normal and abnormal improves the prognosis utility of the clinical assessment, based on the patient and intervention risk.3 However, 51% of preoperative ECGs are abnormal and this rarely has an impact on the therapeutic attitude or is correlated to results among the low risk population.4 In contrast however, information from the preoperative ECG has significant prognostic relevance in patients with a history of ischaemic heart disease.5The increased prognostic value of the operational risk provided by an abnormal ECG is very small among low or medium risk patients and it is therefore clear that systematic ECGs in this population may be unnecessary.3 For the purpose of the preoperative assessment, an ECG is considered abnormal when the following findings are present: left ventricular hypertrophy, pathological Q waves, or alterations in the ST segment, and some abnormal rhythms (atrial fibrillation/flutter, pacemaker rhythm, and ventricular extrasystoles).3 Basal sinus tachycardia (which can not logically be linked to the disease requiring surgical intervention) may also be added to the list, according to some studies which have shown its association with complications.5

As a result, with the exclusion of socioeconomic and labour issues, doubt has been placed on whether the systematic practice of preoperative ECG adds any prognosis utility to the full clinical history in patients undergoing non-cardiac surgical interventions (those with heart disease, by nature, require an exhaustive cardiological assessment, including, of course an ECG).6

The process outlined in Figure 1 has therefore been put forward for assessing patients undergoing non-cardiac interventions.1,6 Without entering in the debate regarding which professional should perform the initial assessment of the patient before an non-cardiac surgical intervention, the aforementioned process indicates an ECG for patients undergoing emergency interventions, those who present a high risk due to combined pathology (heart failure, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, chronic renal failure, and uncontrolled arterial hypertension) and for those requiring high or medium risk interventions. Low risk interventions are those performed under local or local and regional anaesthetic (endoscopy, dental procedures, breast surgery, endocrinology and gynaecological and plastic, and reconstructive surgery). Finally, a cardiological assessment is indicated if the ECG is abnormal: history and physical examinstion, echocardiogram, and ischaemia detection test if required (usually an exercise ECG or echocardiographic stress test).

Figure 1. Procedure put forward for preoperative assessment. *The corresponding criteria are outlined in the text.

Eagle KA, Berger PB, Calkins H, Chaitman BR, Ewy GA, Fleischmann KE, et al..
ACC/AHA guideline update on perioperative cardiovascular evaluation for noncardiac surgery: executive summary. A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Committee to Update the 1996 Guidelines on Perioperative Cardiovascular Evaluation for Noncardiac Surgery)..
Circulation, 105 (2002), pp. 1257-67
Lee TH, Marcantonio ER, Mangione CM, Thomas EJ, Polanczyk CA, Cook EF, et al..
Derivation and prospective validation of a simple index for prediction of cardiac risk of major noncardiac surgery..
Circulation, 100 (1999), pp. 1043-9
Noordzij PG, Boersma E, Bax JJ, Feringa HH.H, Schreiner F, Schouten O, et al..
Prognostic value of routine preoperative electrocardiography in patients undergoing noncardiac surgery..
Am J Cardiol, 97 (2006), pp. 1103-6
Ajimura FY, Maia AS, Hachiya A, Watanabe AS, Nunes MP, Martins MA, et al..
Preoperative laboratory evaluation of patients aged over 40 years undergoing elective non-cardiac surgery..
S??o Paulo Med J, 123 (2005), pp. 50-3
Jeger RV, Probst C, Arsenic R, Lippuner T, Pfisterer ME, Seeberger MD, et al..
Long-term prognostic value of the preoperative 12-lead electrocardiogram before major noncardiac surgery in coronary artery disease..
Am Heart J, 151 (2006), pp. 508-13
Schouten O, Bax JJ, Poldermans D..
Assessment of cardiac risk before non-cardiac general surgery..
Heart, 92 (2006), pp. 1866-72
Revista Española de Cardiología (English Edition)

Subscribe to our newsletter

Article options
es en

¿Es usted profesional sanitario apto para prescribir o dispensar medicamentos?

Are you a health professional able to prescribe or dispense drugs?

es en
Política de cookies Cookies policy
Utilizamos cookies propias y de terceros para mejorar nuestros servicios y mostrarle publicidad relacionada con sus preferencias mediante el análisis de sus hábitos de navegación. Si continua navegando, consideramos que acepta su uso. Puede cambiar la configuración u obtener más información aquí. To improve our services and products, we use "cookies" (own or third parties authorized) to show advertising related to client preferences through the analyses of navigation customer behavior. Continuing navigation will be considered as acceptance of this use. You can change the settings or obtain more information by clicking here.