Elimination of preoperative testing in ambulatory surgery

Anesth Analg. 2009 Feb;108(2):467-75. doi: 10.1213/ane.0b013e318176bc19.


Background: Preoperative testing has been criticized as having little impact on perioperative outcomes. We conducted a randomized, single-blind, prospective, controlled pilot study to determine whether indicated preoperative testing can be eliminated without increasing the perioperative incidence of adverse events in selected patients undergoing ambulatory surgery.

Methods: One thousand sixty-one eligible patients were randomized either to have indicated preoperative testing or no preoperative testing. In the indicated testing group, patients received indicated preoperative testing: a complete blood count, electrolytes, blood glucose, creatinine, electrocardiogram, and chest radiograph according to the Ontario Preoperative Testing Grid as per current practice, whereas in the no testing group, no testing was ordered. The investigators, data collectors, and patient outcome reviewers were blinded to the group assignment. The primary outcome measures were the rate of perioperative adverse events and the rates of adverse events within 7 and 30 days after surgery.

Results: Patients' age, gender, American Society of Anesthesiologists status, type of surgery, and anesthesia were similar between the two groups. There were no significant differences in the rates of perioperative adverse events and the rates of adverse events within 30 days after surgery between the no testing group and the indicated testing group. Hospital revisits <or=7 days were higher in the indicated testing group (P < 0.05). None of the adverse events were related to the indicated testing or no testing.

Conclusions: This pilot study showed that there was no increase in the perioperative adverse events as a result of no preoperative testing in our study population. A larger study is needed to demonstrate that indicated testing may be safely eliminated in selected patients undergoing ambulatory surgery without increasing perioperative complications.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures*
  • Data Collection
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Preoperative Care* / economics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult