American Society of Anesthesiologists

View all recommendations from this society

Released October 12, 2013

Don’t obtain baseline diagnostic cardiac testing (trans-thoracic/esophageal echocardiography – TTE/TEE) or cardiac stress testing in asymptomatic stable patients with known cardiac disease (e.g., CAD, valvular disease) undergoing low or moderate risk non-cardiac surgery.

Advances in cardiovascular medical management, particularly the introduction of perioperative beta-blockade and improvements in surgical and anesthetic techniques, have significantly decreased operative morbidity and mortality rates in noncardiac surgery. Surgical outcomes continue to improve causing the mortality rate of major surgeries to be low and the need for revascularization minimal. Consequently, the role of preoperative cardiac stress testing has been reduced to the identification of extremely high-risk patients, for instance, those with significant left main disease for which preoperative revascularization would be beneficial regardless of the impending procedure. In other words, testing may be appropriate if the results would change management prior to surgery, could change the decision of the patient to undergo surgery, or change the type of procedure that the surgeon will perform.

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 list started as an academic project of Onyi C. Onuoha, M.D., M.P.H A review of the literature and practice guidelines as approved by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) was performed to identify an evidence-based list of activities to question within the field of anesthesiology. A multi-step survey of anesthesiologists in both the academic and private sector and ASA Committees of Jurisdiction was performed to generate a “Top 5 List” list of preoperative and intraoperative activities. The final list was endorsed by the ASA and accepted for the Choosing Wisely® campaign. We believe that developing strategies whereby all stakeholders in the perioperative team are involved in the implementation is a means in which anesthesiologists could be engaged in the efforts to reduce over-utilization of low value, non-indicated medical services evident in the U.S. health system today.

ASA’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at


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Miller AL, Beckman JA. (2013). Which patient should have a preoperative cardiac evaluation (stress test)? In L. Fleisher, Evidence-based practice of anesthesiology (3rd ed., pp. 61–70). Philadelphia (PA): Elsevier Saunders.

Schiefermueller J, Myerson S, Handa AI. Preoperative assessment and perioperative management of cardiovascular risk. Angiology. 2013;64(2):146–50.

Sheffield KM, McAdams PS, Benarroch-Gampel J, Goodwin JS, Boyd CA, Zhang D, Riall TS. Overuse of preoperative cardiac stress testing in medicare patients undergoing elective noncardiac surgery. Ann Surg. 2013; 257(1):73–80.

Almanaseer Y, Mukherjee D, Kline-Rogers EM, Kesterson SK, Sonnad SS, Roges B, Smith D, Furney S, Ernst R, McCort J, Eagle KA. Implementation of the ACC/AHA guidelines for preoperative cardiac risk assessment in a general medicine preoperative clinic: improving efficiency and preserving outcomes. Cardiology. 2005;103(1):24–9.

Cinello M, Nucifora G, Bertolissi M, Badano LP, Fresco C, Gonano N, Fioretti PM. American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association perioperative assessment guidelines for noncardiac surgery reduces cardiologic resource utilization preserving favorable outcome. J Cardiovasc Med. 2007;8(11):882–8.

Augoustides JG, Neuman MD, Al-Ghofaily L, Silvay G. Preoperative cardiac risk assessment for noncardiac surgery: defining costs and risks. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2013;27(2):395–9.

Falcone RA, Nass C, Jermyn R, Hale CM, Stierer T, Jones CE, Walters GK, Fleisher LA. The value of preoperative pharmacologic stress testing before vascular surgery using ACC/AHA guidelines: a prospective randomized trial. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2003;17(6):694–8.

Poldermans D, Boersma E. Beta-blocker therapy in noncardiac surgery. N Engl J Med. 2005;353:412–4.