Literature exists regarding the perioperative role of internists. Internists rely on this literature assuming it meets the needs of surgeons without actually knowing their perspective. We sought to understand why surgeons ask for preoperative consultations and their view on the internist's role in perioperative medicine.
Survey of surgeons in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada regarding an internist's potential role in perioperative care.
Fifty-nine percent responded. The majority request a preoperative consultation for a difficult case (83%) or specific problem (81%). While almost half feel that a preoperative consultation is to "clear" a patient for surgery, 33% disagree with this statement. The majority believe the internist should discuss risk with the patient. Aspects of the preoperative consultation deemed most important are cardiac medication optimization (93%), cardiac risk stratification (83%), addition of beta-blockers (76%), and diabetes management (74%).
Surgeons perceive the most important roles for the internist as cardiac risk stratification and medication management. Areas of controversy identified amongst the surgeons included who should inform the patient of their operative risk, and whether the internist should follow the patient daily postoperatively. Unclear expectations have the potential to impact on patient safety and informed consent unless acknowledged and acted on by all. We recommend that internists performing perioperative consults communicate directly with the consulting physician to ensure that all parties are in accordance as to each others duties. We also recommend that the teaching of perioperative consults emphasizes the interdisciplinary communication needed to ensure that patient needs are not neglected when one specialty assumes the other will perform a function.
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Physicians may use several validated risk indices to estimate perioperative cardiac risk, but there is little evidence for interventions to reduce this risk. We were interested in evaluating how general internists assess, define, communicate, and attempt to modify perioperative cardiac risk.
Cross-sectional survey of all 312 general internists in the Canadian Society of Internal Medicine with Canadian mailing addresses; 117 (38%) responded.
Respondents' mean age was 46 years, 79% were male, and on average they did 17 preoperative consults per month. Of the 104 respondents who routinely performed preoperative assessments, 96% (100/104) informed patients of their perioperative cardiac risk, but 77% did so only subjectively (i.e., stating risk as low, moderate, or high). Respondents provided 8, 27, and 12 different definitions for low, moderate, and high risk, respectively, with marked variability in the range of definitions they provided: from 2% to >50% for "high risk." The 67% of respondents who reported using a perioperative cardiac risk index used a variety of indices and exhibited just as much variability in their risk estimates and definitions as those who didn't use risk indices. While virtually all advised perioperative beta blockade in patients with known coronary artery disease, they varied substantially in the recommended agent or dose; further, these internists were evenly split on whether antiplatelet agents should be held or continued perioperatively.
These physicians differed widely in their assessment of perioperative cardiac risk and their definitions of low, moderate, or high risk. This raises concerns about whether patients (and surgeons) are provided with adequate information to make fully informed decisions about the potential risks of elective surgical operations.
Cites: N Engl J Med. 1999 Dec 9;341(24):1789-9410588963
BACKGROUND: Patients rapidly deteriorating while waiting for heart transplantation present a major problem. Our strategy for this entity is the HeartMate left ventricular assist device (LVAD) VELVAS, an electrically driven implantable LVAD. Herein we report our initial experience. METHODS: The medical records of all the patients who received HeartMate LVAS at our institution were reviewed. RESULTS: From January 1997 through May 2004, 19 patients received a HeartMate. The mean age was 39 (15 to 61) years and 84% were men. The diagnoses were: dilated cardiomyopathy (n = 8), ischemic heart disease (n = 6), myocarditis (n = 3), congenital heart disease (n = 1), and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (n = 1). Mean time on LVAD was 113 (10 to 353) days. Ten patients were discharged from the hospital to their homes awaiting transplant or recovery. Three patients showed recovery of heart function and were subsequently weaned from mechanical support. Thirteen patients underwent heart transplantation. Three patients died during LVAD treatment. Major adverse events occurred in nine patients, including severe right heart failure (n = 3), severe bleeding (n = 3), stroke (n = 1), hepatic failure (n = 1), and septicemia (n = 2). Nine of the 13 transplanted patients are alive and well today. CONCLUSION: HeartMate LVAS is a valuable option for patients rapidly deteriorating while awaiting a heart transplant. Our results are comparable with those reported from larger centers.
Postoperative atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter (POAF) are the most common complications of cardiac surgery that require intervention or prolong intensive care unit and total hospital stay. For some patients, these tachyarrhythmias have important consequences including patient discomfort/anxiety, hemodynamic deterioration, cognitive impairment, thromboembolic events including stroke, exposure to the risks of antiarrhythmic treatments, longer hospital stay, and increased health care costs. We conclude that prevention of POAF is a worthwhile exercise and recommend that the dominant therapy for this purpose be ß-blocker therapy, especially the continuation of ß-blocker therapy that is already in place. When ß-blocker therapy is contraindicated, amiodarone prophylaxis is recommended. If both of these therapies are contraindicated, therapy with either intravenous magnesium or biatrial pacing is suggested. Patients at high risk of POAF may be considered for first-line amiodarone therapy, first-line sotalol therapy, or combination prophylactic therapy. The treatment of POAF may follow either a rate-control approach (with the dominant therapy being ß-blocking drugs) or a rhythm-control approach. Anticoagulation should be considered if persistent POAF lasts >72 hours and at the point of hospital discharge. The ongoing need for any POAF treatment (including anticoagulation) should be reconsidered 6-12 weeks after the surgical procedure.
The Department of Thoracic Surgery at the University Hospital, Linköping, Sweden, has actively followed up infectious complications of cardiac surgery since 1989. The aim of this study was to investigate whether changes occurred during the 1990s in the appearance and the management of deep infections. This was done by studying patients undergoing surgical revision of infected wounds. We studied 42 patients during 1990-94 and 49 during 1997-98 (total number of operations in these periods, 3075 and 1646, respectively). Pre-operative and intra-operative variables were recorded for the two patient populations. The proportion of cardiac surgery procedures followed by a surgical revision for an infection in the sternal wound increased between the two periods (1.4% vs. 3.0%). Variables associated with the surgical procedures preceding the infection remained unchanged. In the later period, treatment was started earlier (64 vs. 24 days), and the length of antibiotic treatment was decreased (115 vs. 72 days). The incidence of osteomyelitis of the sternal bone was lower (61% vs. 27%). It appears that as the proportion of patients undergoing surgical revision increased, management of the infections became more effective, with aggressive surgical and antibiotic treatment policies and shorter treatment periods. This indicates that in order to evaluate the overall impact of measures designed to reduce infections after cardiac surgery, not only the incidence of infection needs to be followed up but other factors also need to be taken into account.