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J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2011 Oct;25(5):791-8. doi: 10.1053/j.jvca.2011.03.174. Epub 2011 Jul 2.

The management and outcome of documented intraoperative heart rate-related electrocardiographic changes.

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Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



The authors analyzed surgical cases in which electrocardiographic (ECG) signs of cardiac ischemia were noted to be precipitated by increases in heart rate (ie, heart rate-related ECG changes [REC]). The authors aimed to find REC incidence, specificity for coronary artery disease (CAD), and the outcome associated with different management strategies.


A retrospective review.


A university hospital, tertiary care.


Patients undergoing surgery under anesthesia.


A chart review.


The authors searched 158,252 anesthesia electronic records for comments noting REC (ie, ST-segment or T-wave changes). After excluding cases with potentially confounding conditions (eg, hypotension, hyperkalemia, and so on), 26 cases were analyzed.


REC commonly was precipitated by anesthesia-related events (ie, intubation, extubation, and treatment of bradycardia). In 24 cases, REC was managed by prompt heart rate reduction using β-blocker agents, opioids, and/or cardioversion in the addition to the removal of stimulus. Only 1 case had a copy of the ECG printed. Two cases were aborted, 1 was shortened and 23 proceeded without change. Postoperative troponin T levels were checked, and cardiology consultation was obtained in selected cases and led to further cardiac evaluation in 6 cases. Postoperative myocardial infarction developed in only 1 patient in whom the ECG changes were allowed to persist throughout the case.


This incidence of reported REC was much lower than the previously reported incidence of ischemia-related ECG changes, suggesting that the largest proportion of events go unnoticed. In many patients, subsequent cardiology workup did not confirm the existence of clinically significant CAD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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