The diagnosis of a postoperative myocardial infarction (PMI) is important in the orthopedic population because these events can be associated with significant cardiac morbidity. Plasma troponin I (cTnI) analysis has markedly increased our ability to detect myocardial damage. Using cTnI analysis for evidence of a PMI, we prospectively assessed all of our patients for (1) the 1-year incidence of PMI, (2) the clinical consequences of a PMI in relation to the level of the cTnI release, and (3) 6-month follow-up for cardiac complications. During a 12-month period, patients at risk for perioperative myocardial ischemia were assessed for a PMI by serum cTnI levels and daily serial ECGs. Patients with cTnI levels above the reference level (=0.4 ng/ml) were also assessed for new cardiac regional wall motion abnormalities with an echocardiogram and 6-month postdischarge adverse cardiac events. Of the 758 patients who were assessed for a PMI, 49 patients had detectable cTnI levels (=0.4 ng/ml); the incidence of a PMI was 0.6% of all surgical cases and 6.5% of those patients were at risk for a cardiac event. A PMI was more common after hip arthroplasty than other orthopedic procedures. Twenty-three patients had a cTnI level >3.0 ng/ml, and 74% these patients (17/23) had anginal symptoms and/or ischemic ECG changes. Nine of these patients (9/23) had new postoperative echocardiographic changes, five (5/23) required emergency transfer to a cardiac care unit, and 10 (10/23) had postoperative cardiac complications. In contrast, 15 patients with levels of cTnI <3.0 ng/ml and without ischemic ECG changes and/or anginal symptoms had no postoperative cardiac complications. Fourteen patients (14/47) had cardiac complications 6 months after discharge, including four cardiac deaths, one fatal stroke, and four patients with unstable anginal episodes that required a change in medical management, and six patients required coronary revascularization. Orthopedic surgical patients with cTnI level <3 ng/ml and without symptoms or ECG changes suggestive of myocardial ischemia (15/49) may have different risks than those with higher-level cTn1.
About the HSS Journal
HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal, is published twice a year, February and September, and features articles by internal faculty and HSS alumni that present current research and clinical work in the field of musculoskeletal medicine performed at HSS, including research articles, surgical procedures, and case reports.