Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) ), including the Faculty of Pain Medicine, is one of Australasia's largest specialist medical colleges and is responsible for the training, examination and specialist accreditation of anaesthetists and pain medicine specialists and for the standards of clinical practice.

Avoid ordering cardiac stress testing for asymptomatic patients prior to undergoing low to intermediate risk non-cardiac surgery.

Date reviewed: 17 March 2017

Unnecessary cardiac stress testing increases the patient risk profile for the intended surgery by exposing the patient to the inherent complications of the investigation employed. A further consequence may be the invasive treatment of asymptomatic non-critical coronary disease leading to further patient risk and delay of surgery.

Cardiac stress testing should be reserved for symptomatic patients who would normally qualify for the investigation regardless of the need for an operation, and asymptomatic patients at high risk of coronary disease with a significant risk of major adverse cardiac events due to co-morbidity or the high risk nature of the surgery

Supporting evidence
  • Devereaux PJ, Sessler DI. Cardiac complications in patients undergoing major noncardiac surgery. N Engl J Med 2015;373:2258-69.
  • Fleisher LA, Fleischmann KE, Auerbach AD, et al. 2014 ACC/AHA guideline on perioperative cardiovascular evaluation and management of patients undergoing noncardiac surgery: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol 2014;64:e77-137.
  • Kristensen SD, Knuuti J, Saraste A, et al. 2014 ESC/ESA Guidelines on non-cardiac surgery: cardiovascular assessment and management: The Joint Task Force on non-cardiac surgery: cardiovascular assessment and management of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESA). Eur Heart J 2014;35:2383-431.
  • Wijeysundera DN, Beattie WS, Austin PC, et al. Non-invasive cardiac stress testing before elective major non-cardiac surgery: population based cohort study. BMJ 2010;340:b5526.
How this list was made How this list was made

ANZCA’s Safety and Quality Committee established a working group that developed a preliminary list of 10 anaesthetic-related practices that, based on clinical evidence, may have possible limited benefit, no benefit or may potentially cause harm to patients. Using an on-line survey tool, all ANZCA Fellows and trainees were invited to rank these recommendations and provide relevant comments. This engagement facilitated consensus and informed Fellows and trainees about ANZCA’s involvement with the Choosing Wisely campaign.

ANZCA’s final list of 5 Choosing Wisely recommendations deliberately supports the clinician’s judgements and emphasises the importance of considering patient and surgical factors in decision making; in particular, as regards the selection of necessary preoperative testing and appropriate facilities for all patients and the expected outcomes and goals of care for the medically frail.

Download ANZCA Recommendations