Prevalence of a postoperative troponin leak in patients with cardiac risk factors undergoing knee and hip arthroplasty in a South African population

Van Zyl, R. D. ; Burger, M. C. ; Jordaan, J. D. (2020)

CITATION: Van Zyl, R. D., Burger, M. C. & Jordaan, J. D. 2020. Prevalence of a postoperative troponin leak in patients with cardiac risk factors undergoing knee and hip arthroplasty in a South African population. South African Medical Journal, 110(4):320-326, doi:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i4.14133.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund


Background. Patients undergoing arthroplasty may have comorbidities that put them at risk of myocardial injury after non-cardiac surgery (MINS). MINS, a new clinical concept that has a different pathophysiology from conventional myocardial infarction, is related to a supply-demand mismatch ischaemia in the perioperative setting. MINS is often a silent event, and the diagnosis relies on cardiac biomarker testing such as troponin T. The incidence is estimated at 40%, with a fourfold increase in morbidity and mortality risk 1 year post surgery. Objectives. To determine the prevalence of postoperative troponin leak in a single-centre arthroplasty unit in patients with various cardiac risk factors undergoing hip or knee arthroplasty and investigate the differences in troponin T levels between comorbidities and different types of arthroplasty, i.e. total hip replacement (THR), total knee replacement (TKR) and neck of femur (NoF) fracture hip replacement. Methods. A prospective, cross-sectional study of patients with one or more cardiac risk factors undergoing replacement surgery was conducted from October 2017 to April 2018. Troponin levels of all included patients were recorded on days 1 and 3 post surgery using a high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T assay (Roche hs-cTnT). A level of >15 ng/L is considered abnormal and termed a positive troponin leak, while >100 ng/L is considered suspected acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Results. One hundred and sixty patients (n=66 THR, n=55 NoF hip replacement, n=39 TKR) were included. Sixty-eight patients (42%) had a positive troponin leak, and in 6 of these cases ACS was suspected. The highest prevalence of troponin leak was recorded in patients undergoing NoF hip replacement (62%), followed by TKR (46%) and then THR (24%). Sixty-two patients (38%) had positive troponin levels on day 1 and 53 patients (33%) had positive levels on day 3. Important patient cardiac risk factors were identified in the presence of a positive troponin leak, with ischaemic heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, renal disease, age >65 years and atrial fibrillation being statistically most likely. Conclusions. Postoperative troponin surveillance is an inexpensive and reliable way to identify patients at risk of MINS and subsequently enhance early detection, medical optimisation and referral strategies. Simple interventions may improve outcomes and contribute to lower ACS rates and the timeous prevention of other complications. The prevalence of MINS in orthopaedic-specific patients in South Africa (SA) and other resource-constrained developing countries is unknown. Our finding of 42% positive troponin leaks raises awareness of this issue, and we recommend routine postoperative troponin surveillance for all arthroplasty units in SA.

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