Introduction: In many institutions patients are evaluated to rule out an infectious focus in the ENT sphere prior to cardiac surgery. In a prospective clinical study we assessed the contribution of history and clinical examination in the detection of ENT infections.
Methods: From October 1998 to January 2000, 68 patients were evaluated by self-administered questionnaire and an ENT examination. Dental status was evaluated separately by a dentist.
Results: The patient population was divided into two groups: The first group consisted of 23 patients (33.8%) with at least one ENT symptom: in 22 the examination was normal and one patient had viral pharyngitis. 5 patients in this group presented a postoperative infectious complication. The second group comprised 45 patients (66.2%) without a history suggestive of a possible infectious focus: in 44 the examination was normal and one patient presented otitis media with effusion. 2 patients in this group had a postoperative infectious complication.
Discussion: Routine ENT examination is not necessary prior to cardiac surgery. The patient history can be used to select patients for further evaluation.