oa Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia - Do percutaneous coronary interventions protect the surgical patient? : SASA refresher text



The number of percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) performed annually has increased rapidly over the last two decades. Coronary angioplasties are now commonly complemented with the insertion of coronary artery stents. Initially bare metal stents (BMS) were developed with drug-eluting stents (DES) subsequently being introduced. Drug-eluting stents reduce in-stent restenosis at the cost of prolonged anti-platelet therapy. While observational studies suggest that coronary artery bypass graft surgery protects against perioperative cardiac events in non-cardiac surgery, no such evidence exists for PCI. In order to prevent stent thrombosis, patients need to receive dual anti-platelet therapy (generally aspirin and clopidogrel) for four to six weeks with BMS, and at least one year with DES. Patients on dual anti-platelet therapy are at risk of severe bleeding during surgery. However, withdrawal of dual anti-platelet therapy is associated with the risk of stent thrombosis. The risk of cardiac complications seems to exceed the risk of bleeding, and maintenance of dual anti-platelet therapy is advocated whenever possible. Surgery in closed cavities (neurosurgery, intraocular surgery) necessitates the withdrawal of dual anti-platelet therapy. There is a significant risk of perioperative complications in patients who have DES, or recently inserted BMS, and consequently surgery should not be performed without a discussion involving the surgeon, cardiologist, anaesthetist, and the patient.


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