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Ann Thorac Surg. 2003 Feb;75(2):472-8.

Stroke after cardiac surgery: a risk factor analysis of 16,184 consecutive adult patients.

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Department of Cardiac Surgery, Heart Center, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.



Stroke remains a devastating complication after cardiac surgical procedures despite advances in perioperative monitoring and management. The purpose of this study was to determine the predictors of stroke in a large, contemporary cardiac surgery population.


Prospective data on 16,184 consecutive patients undergoing cardiac surgery (coronary artery bypass grafting [CABG], n = 8,917; beating heart CABG, n = 1,842; aortic valve surgery, n = 1,830; mitral valve surgery, n = 708; double or triple valve surgery, n = 381; CABG and valve surgery, n = 2,506) between April 1996 and August 2001 were subjected to univariate and multivariate analysis. Stroke was defined as any new permanent (manifest stroke) or temporary neurologic deficit or deterioration (transient ischemic attack or prolonged reversible ischemic neurologic deficit) and was confirmed by computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging whenever possible.


Overall incidence of stroke was 4.6% and varied between surgical procedures (CABG 3.8%; beating-heart CABG 1.9%; aortic valve surgery 4.8%; mitral valve surgery 8.8%; double or triple valve surgery 9.7%; CABG and valve surgery 7.4%). Of 63 patient-specific and treatment variables, 54 were found to have a significant univariate association with postoperative stroke. Multivariable analysis revealed 10 variables that were independent predictors of stroke: history of cerebrovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, previous cardiac surgery, preoperative infection, urgent operation, CPB time more than 2 hours, need for intraoperative hemofiltration, and high transfusion requirement. Beating heart CABG was associated with a lower incidence of stroke in this multivariable analysis.


Identification of predictors for stroke is important for understanding the pathogenesis of this devastating complication as well as for developing preventative strategies. Although retrospective analyses can be subject to selection bias we believe beating heart CABG is associated with a lower incidence of stroke and may therefore improve patient outcomes.

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