Troponin Elevation After Colorectal Surgery: Significance and Management

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The aim of this study is to identify the association between early postoperative troponin elevations and outcomes after major colorectal surgery.


Myocardial infarction is the leading cause of death after noncardiac surgery. Most postoperative myocardial infarctions are clinically silent, and asymptomatic troponin elevations have the same early mortality as symptomatic infarctions.


Patients over the age of 45, undergoing major colorectal surgery from March 2015 to January 2016, were identified. Plasma troponin T concentrations were prospectively collected within 24 and 48 hours after surgery. Characteristics, evaluations, management, and outcomes of patients with elevated troponin concentrations were analyzed. Mortality within the follow-up period was the primary end point.


A total of 1020 patients were screened with postoperative troponin concentrations. Fifty patients had troponin concentrations >0.01 ng/mL. Patients rarely (16%) had ischemic symptoms. Cardiology was consulted for 23 patients and started on medical therapy. Seventeen of these patients were alive at follow-up. Ten patients (20%) with troponin concentrations >0.01 ng/mL died within the follow-up period, 7 of which had concentrations ≥0.03 ng/mL.


Most postoperative myocardial injury is asymptomatic and may only be detected by routine troponin screening. Elevated troponin concentrations after colorectal surgery may facilitate identifying patients at postoperative risk and prompt appropriate testing. Early intervention in select patients may lead to potential reduction of mortality after major colorectal surgery.

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