Background: Preoperative cardiac evaluations have been advocated prior to major vascular procedures to reduce the incidence of postoperative cardiac complications. This study was undertaken to evaluate the efficacy and predictive value of routine dobutamine echocardiography (DE) in the screening of patients undergoing elective aortic surgery.
Methods: Dobutamine echocardiography was performed preoperatively on all patients having elective aortic procedures by our university surgical group from June 1995 to August 1996. The cardiac morbidity and mortality from this group were compared with that of a similar group undergoing elective aortic procedures from June 1993 to May 1995 with no dobutamine echocardiography (NDE).
Results: Although there was no statistically significant difference in either overall mortality (4.4% in NDE vs. 2.3% in DE) or cardiac mortality (2.9% in NDE vs. 0% in DE) between the two groups, cardiac events occurred only in those patients with previous coronary artery disease. In addition, dobutamine echocardiography had a negative predictive value of 97%
Conclusions: Although routine screening is not necessary, selective screening of patients using dobutamine stress echocardiography is justified because of its high negative predictive value.