Posts Tagged ‘preoperative cardiac risk assesment’

A 62-year-old man who is being scheduled for prostate surgery with no cardiac risk factors or comorbid status came for surgical clearance. I examined him and took an ECG, everything was fine and gave him clearance for surgery.

 I was surprised to spot him the very next day, waiting in the lounge of my office. He said, his anesthetist was not happy with my pre-op-cardiac assessment report, suggested it was incomplete, and sent me back for echocardiography to know the LV ejection fraction.

I wanted to clarify with the patient, what exactly happened when he met his anesthesiologist.

“I am not sure doctor, the moment he saw your report, he called my urologist. I overheard his call, they were discussing the need for an echocardiogram and they were also wondering,  how could a cardiologist give a  surgical clearance without even an echocardiography”.

I wasn’t really surprised by the turn of events and told the patient. 

“I am experienced enough to say, your heart is 100 % normal without an echocardiogram”.

“I understand doctor, but sorry to bother you. Can you please take it for the sake of my anesthetist and urologist, after all, right now I am worried about their peace of mind” 

“You are absolutely right. This is a topsy-turvy world. Investigations are dictated to me in my own field of expertise. Anyway, I am not a fool, to expect a patient’s help to guard my principles of practice. Please check in, let me do the echocardiogram as they wish” 

Thank you so much, Doctor“.

I showed him, the vigorously contracting ventricle and taught the student trainee who was nearby, a simple clinical tip ie, a loud first heart sound on auscultation is good enough to tell you, the EF is beyond 60% in most situations. (A forceful AML movement is a direct auditory marker of EF %)

Final message

It is getting more & more clear,  physicians will face huge hurdles in applying their clinical skills to practice. They may even be unauthorized to do so. It seems, in our misplaced quest for perfection, we have fallen into a scientific trap, that every clinical decision must be authenticated by some objective lab-made obsession. The word clinical acumen could soon become a laughing stock, as AI-powered medical zombies are waiting to join our consultation suits.

(Meanwhile,  the guidelines are very clear. (Read below)  Do echo only in high-risk surgery, if patients’ functional capacity is poor. But, let me confess, at least in our part of the world,  we are happy to violate standard guidelines  without any degree of guilt )


ESC Scientific Document Group, 2022 ESC Guidelines on cardiovascular assessment and management of patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery: Developed by the task force for cardiovascular assessment and management of patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Endorsed by the European Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care (ESAIC), European Heart Journal, Volume 43, Issue 39, 14 October 2022, Pages 3826–3924https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehac270


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