The elderly constitute an increasingly large segment of the population and of the patients requiring medical attention. Major surgery is associated with a substantial burden of postoperative morbidity and mortality. Advancing age is a particular risk factor for these outcomes. This article reviews the current literature on the value and practical applications of cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) as a tool to evaluate risk and thereby improve the management of the elderly patient undergoing major surgery. There is a consistent association between CPET-derived variables and outcome following major surgery. Furthermore, CPET-derived variables have utility in perioperative risk prediction and identification of patients at high risk of adverse outcome following major surgery. This optimal predictor appears to differ between various surgery types and the incremental benefit of combining CPET with alternative methods of perioperative risk prediction remains poorly defined.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.