American College of Cardiology

View all recommendations from this society

February 28, 2017

Don’t perform routine electrocardiography (ECG) screening as part of pre-operative or pre-procedural evaluations for asymptomatic patients with low perioperative risk of death or myocardial infarction.

Despite potential value in having a pre-operative ECG to identify unsuspected cardiac abnormalities or as a comparison after a perioperative event, the likelihood of benefit for patients at low risk of major cardiovascular events is very small. Low perioperative risk is defined as <1% probability of death or myocardial infarction in the 2014 ACC/AHA Guideline on Perioperative Cardiovascular Evaluation and Management of Patients Undergoing Noncardiac Surgery, which also outline evidence-based methods for perioperative risk stratification.

Unnecessary ECGs can lead to needless consults, delays and changes to operative plans, which may counterbalance any potential benefit for the patient. In the absence of scientific studies establishing the value of a pre-operative ECG in a low cardiovascular risk population, the routine ordering of pre-operative ECGs should be discouraged.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) asked its standing clinical councils to recommend between three and five procedures that should not be performed or should be performed more rarely and only in specific circumstances. ACC staff took the councils’ recommendations and compared them to the ACC’s existing appropriate use criteria (AUC) and guidelines, choosing items for the five things list that had the tightest inappropriate score in the AUCs and were Class III recommendations in the guidelines. The ACC’s Advocacy Steering Committee and Clinical Quality Committee each then reviewed the five items before sending it to the ACC Executive Committee for final review and approval. ACC’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at http://www.cardiosource.org/RWI.