Reduction of the cardiac morbidity associated with major vascular procedures requires identification of high risk patients prior to operation. This retrospective study reviews the records of 126 consecutive patients who underwent 141 major vascular procedures to determine the accuracy of preoperative clinical, laboratory (ECG), and cardiac function testing (stress thallium-201 scintigraphy, left ventricular ejection fraction scan) in predicting perioperative cardiac complications. An abnormality on oral dipyridamole or treadmill thallium imaging was demonstrated prior to 71 (61%) of 116 procedures and included 20 fixed and 51 reperfusion (reversible) defects. No patient died within 30 days of operation, but 11 minor (ventricular arrhythmia) and 15 major (myocardial infarction, ischemic congestive heart failure) cardiac complications occurred. A reperfusion defect on stress thallium imaging accurately (94% sensitivity, 56% specificity, 98% negative predictive value) identified high-risk patients while accepted clinical rating systems (Goldman, Cooperman, Eagle) and preoperative level of left ventricular ejection fraction were less predictive of adverse cardiac events. Patients without myocardium at risk by coronary angiography, but a reperfusion defect on stress thallium imaging were found to be at high risk for a cardiac complication. The study data support the use of stress thallium imaging to stratify cardiac risk prior to major arterial surgery.
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