Perioperative Management of Cardiac Transplant Recipients Undergoing Noncardiac Surgery: Unique Challenges Created by Advancements in Care

Semin Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2017 Sep;21(3):235-244. doi: 10.1177/1089253217706164. Epub 2017 May 3.


Advancements in postcardiac transplant care have resulted in significant reductions in morbidity and increased life expectancy for cardiac transplant recipients. Consequently, many cardiac transplant recipients are living long enough to require subsequent noncardiac surgery. The perioperative care of heart transplant recipients presents a unique challenge as many of the common preoperative risk assessments do not apply to a transplanted heart, immunosuppressive medications have side effects and potential for drug-drug interactions, and the denervated heart results in an altered autonomic physiology and response to medications. Further adding to the challenge is that many of these noncardiac surgeries need to be performed urgently at nontransplant centers that may not be familiar with the care of these patients. This review aims to summarize the current data regarding preoperative assessment, perioperative immunosuppression management, intraoperative and anesthetic considerations, and outcomes of cardiac transplant recipients undergoing noncardiac surgery.

Keywords: heart failure; heart transplant; immunosuppression; preoperative risk assessment; surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics / administration & dosage
  • Drug Interactions
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Perioperative Care / methods
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / methods*
  • Transplant Recipients*


  • Anesthetics
  • Immunosuppressive Agents