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Preoperative and Perioperative Care for Patients With Suspected or Established Aortic Stenosis Facing Noncardiac Surgery*

Michael Christ, MD; Yulia Sharkova, MD; Götz Geldner, MD; Bernhard Maisch, MD
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*From the Departments of Internal Medicine and Cardiology (Drs. Christ, Sharkova, and Maisch) and Anesthesiology and Intensive Care (Dr. Geldner), Philipps University Marburg, Germany.

Correspondence to: Michael Christ, MD, Department Medizin, Med. Klinik A, Universitätsspitals Basel, Basel, Switzerland; e-mail: christ_michael@yahoo.de



Chest. 2005;128(4):2944-2953. doi:10.1378/chest.128.4.2944
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Current medicine has displayed a trend toward less interfering techniques but more invasive surgical approaches in older patients with more comorbidities. In this population, the prevalence of symptomatic cardiac disease including aortic stenosis is increased. More than 25 years have elapsed since severe aortic stenosis was identified as an independent, important risk factor for patients undergoing general anesthesia for noncardiac surgery. Despite impressive advances in anesthesiologic and surgical techniques, morbidity and mortality in patients with severe aortic stenosis remains high. Published study results clearly show that adverse perioperative risk in patients with aortic stenosis depends on the interaction of factors such as the severity of valve disease, concomitant coronary artery disease, and the severity and/or urgency of the surgical procedures. The mainstay of preoperative evaluation remains the obtaining of a comprehensive preoperative medical history and a physical examination, while transthoracic echocardiography is necessary to establish or exclude hemodynamically relevant aortic stenosis in selected patients. Perioperative care is established in patients with asymptomatic aortic stenosis and/or those undergoing low-risk surgery. However, further preoperative testing or aortic valve replacement prior to noncardiac surgery should be discussed individually with the patients awaiting urgent surgical procedures who are at medium or high risk. At this point, decisions should be made in an interdisciplinary manner, including the opinions/wishes of the patient and the patient’s family.

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