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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2009 Sep;53(8):986-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2009.01971.x. Epub 2009 Apr 14.

Predictors of cardiac events in high-risk patients undergoing emergency surgery.

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  • 1Department of Medical & Health Sciences, Division of Anaesthesia, Linkoping University, Linkoping, Sweden.



The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of myocardial damage and left ventricular myocardial dysfunction and their influence on outcome in high-risk patients undergoing non-elective surgery.


In this prospective observational study, 211 patients with American Society of Anesthesiologists classification III or IV undergoing emergent or urgent surgery were included. Troponin I (TnI) was measured pre-operatively, 12 and 48 h post-operatively. Pre-operative N-terminal fragment of B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), as a marker for left ventricular systolic dysfunction, was analyzed. The diagnostic thresholds were set to TnI >0.06 microg/l and NT-proBNP >1800 pg/ml, respectively. Post-operative major adverse cardiac events (MACE), 30-day and 3-months mortality were recorded.


Elevated TnI levels were detected in 33% of the patients post-operatively. A TnI elevation increased the risk of MACE (35% vs. 3% in patients with normal TnI levels, P<0.001) and 30-day mortality (23% vs. 7%, P=0.003). Increased concentrations of NT-proBNP were seen in 59% of the patients. Elevated NT-proBNP was an independent predictor of myocardial damage post-operatively, odds ratio, 6.2 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.1-18.0] and resulted in an increased risk of MACE (21% vs. 2.5% in patients with NT-proBNP < or = 1800 pg/ml, P<0.001).


Myocardial damage is common in a high-risk population undergoing unscheduled surgery. These results suggest a close correlation between myocardial damage in the post-operative period and increased concentration of NT-proBNP before surgery. The combinations of TnI and NT-proBNP are reliable markers for monitoring patients at risk in the peri-operative period as well as useful tools in our risk assessment pre-operatively in emergency surgery.

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