Relevance of routine testing in low-risk patients undergoing minor and medium surgical procedures

Braz J Anesthesiol. 2013 Mar-Apr;63(2):197-201. doi: 10.1016/S0034-7094(13)70215-0.


Background and objectives: Preoperative tests aim to reduce morbidity and mortality of surgical patients, cost of perioperative care, and preoperative anxiety. Clinical evaluation allows defining the need for additional tests and strategies to reduce the surgical-anesthetic risk. The aim of this study was to evaluate the benefit of routine preoperative testing of low-risk patients undergoing minor and medium surgical procedures.

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study of 800 patients seen at the preanesthetic assessment department of Hospital Santo Antonio, Salvador, BA. Patients with physical status ASA I, aged 1-45 years and scheduled to undergo elective minor and medium surgeries were include in the study. We evaluated changes in blood count, coagulation profile, electrocardiogram, chest X-ray, blood sugar, kidney function, sodium and potassium levels, and eventual change in clinical approach occurring due to these changes.

Results: Of 800 patients evaluated, a blood count was performed in 97.5%, coagulation in 89%t, electrocardiogram in 74.1%, chest X-ray in 62%, fasting glucose in 68%, serum urea and creatinine in 55.7%, and plasma levels of sodium and potassium in 10.1%. Of these 700 patients, 68 (9.71%) showed changes in preoperative routine tests and only 10 (14.7%) of the patients with abnormal tests had a preoperative modified approach (i.e., new tests ordered, referral to a specialist or surgery postponement). No surgery was suspended.

Conclusion: We found that preoperative additional tests are excessively ordered, even for young patients with low surgical risk, with little or no interference in perioperative management. Laboratory tests, besides generating high and unnecessary costs, are not good standardized screening instruments for diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Elective Surgical Procedures*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minor Surgical Procedures*
  • Preoperative Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Young Adult