Risk stratification by pre-operative cardiopulmonary exercise testing improves outcomes following elective abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery: a cohort study

Perioper Med (Lond). 2013 May 19;2(1):10. doi: 10.1186/2047-0525-2-10.


Background: In 2009, the NHS evidence adoption center and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published a review of the use of endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs). They recommended the development of a risk-assessment tool to help identify AAA patients with greater or lesser risk of operative mortality and to contribute to mortality prediction.A low anaerobic threshold (AT), which is a reliable, objective measure of pre-operative cardiorespiratory fitness, as determined by pre-operative cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) is associated with poor surgical outcomes for major abdominal surgery. We aimed to assess the impact of a CPET-based risk-stratification strategy upon perioperative mortality, length of stay and non-operative costs for elective (open and endovascular) infra-renal AAA patients.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study was undertaken. Pre-operative CPET-based selection for elective surgical intervention was introduced in 2007. An anonymized cohort of 230 consecutive infra-renal AAA patients (2007 to 2011) was studied. A historical control group of 128 consecutive infra-renal AAA patients (2003 to 2007) was identified for comparison.Comparative analysis of demographic and outcome data for CPET-pass (AT ≥ 11 ml/kg/min), CPET-fail (AT < 11 ml/kg/min) and CPET-submaximal (no AT generated) subgroups with control subjects was performed. Primary outcomes included 30-day mortality, survival and length of stay (LOS); secondary outcomes were non-operative inpatient costs.

Results: Of 230 subjects, 188 underwent CPET: CPET-pass n = 131, CPET-fail n = 35 and CPET-submaximal n = 22. When compared to the controls, CPET-pass patients exhibited reduced median total LOS (10 vs 13 days for open surgery, n = 74, P < 0.01 and 4 vs 6 days for EVAR, n = 29, P < 0.05), intensive therapy unit requirement (3 vs 4 days for open repair only, P < 0.001), non-operative costs (£5,387 vs £9,634 for open repair, P < 0.001) and perioperative mortality (2.7% vs 12.6% (odds ratio: 0.19) for open repair only, P < 0.05). CPET-stratified (open/endovascular) patients exhibited a mid-term survival benefit (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: In this retrospective cohort study, a pre-operative AT > 11 ml/kg/min was associated with reduced perioperative mortality (open cases only), LOS, survival and inpatient costs (open and endovascular repair) for elective infra-renal AAA surgery.