The Society of Thoracic Surgeons

View all recommendations from this society

Released February 21, 2013

Patients who have no cardiac history and good functional status do not require preoperative stress testing prior to non-cardiac thoracic surgery.

  • Functional status has been shown to be reliable for prediction of perioperative and long-term cardiac events. In highly functional asymptomatic patients, management is rarely changed by preoperative stress testing. It is therefore appropriate to proceed with the planned surgery without it.

Unnecessary stress testing can be harmful because it increases the cost of care and delays treatment without altering surgical or perioperative management in a meaningful way. Furthermore, low-risk patients who undergo preoperative stress testing are more likely to obtain additional invasive testing with risks of complications.

Cardiac complications are significant contributors to morbidity and mortality after non-cardiac thoracic surgery, and it is important to identify patients preoperatively who are at risk for these complications. The most valuable tools in this endeavor include a thorough history, physical exam and resting EKG. Cardiac stress testing can be an important adjunct in this evaluation, but it should only be used when clinically indicated.

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 Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) list development process was led by the First Vice-President, and involved input from multiple workforces, including the Workforce on Adult Cardiac and Vascular Surgery, Workforce on General Thoracic Surgery, and Workforce on Evidence Based Surgery, and was staffed by STS’ Director of Quality. The initial 17 recommendations from these Workforces were narrowed down to eight based upon frequency, clinical guidelines and potential impact. STS leadership approved these eight recommendations for presentation to members in an online survey. The results of the survey, as well as research and systematic literature review by the Workforce on Evidence Based Surgery, were presented to the STS Executive Committee, which approved the five final recommendations.


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