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Anesthesiology. 2012 Nov;117(5):1018-26. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e31827005e9.

Intraoperative cardiac arrests in adults undergoing noncardiac surgery: incidence, risk factors, and survival outcome.

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Divisions of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032 , USA.



Intraoperative cardiac arrest (ICA) is a rare but potentially catastrophic event. There is a paucity of recent epidemiological data on the incidence and risk factors for ICA. The objective of this study was to assess the incidence, risk factors, and survival outcome of ICAs in adults undergoing noncardiac surgery.


The authors analyzed prospectively collected data for all noncardiac cases in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database from the years 2005 to 2007 (n = 362,767).


The incidence of ICA was 7.22 per 10,000 surgeries. After adjustment for American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status and other covariates, the odds of ICA increased progressively with the amount of transfusion (adjusted odds ratios = 2.51, 7.59, 11.40, and 29.68 for those receiving 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, and ≥ 10 units of erythrocytes, respectively). Other significant risk factors for ICA were emergency surgery (adjusted odds ratio = 2.04, 95% CI = 1.45-2.86) and being functionally dependent presurgery (adjusted odds ratio = 2.33, 95% CI = 1.69-3.22). Of the 262 patients with ICA, 116 (44.3%) died within 24 h, and 164 (62.6%) died within 30 days.


Intraoperative blood loss as indicated by the amount of transfusion was the most important predictor of ICA. The urgency of surgery and the preoperative composite indicators of health such as American Society of Anesthesiologists status and functional status were other important risk factors. The high case fatality suggests that primary prevention might be the key to reducing mortality from ICA.

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