Clinical Practice Guidelines Decrease Unnecessary Echocardiograms Before Hip Fracture Surgery

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Preoperative assessment of geriatric patients with a hip fracture may include transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), which increases resource utilization and cost and may delay surgery. The purpose of this study was to evaluate preoperative TTE utilization at a single institution in order to determine (1) how often TTE is ordered in accordance with clinical practice guidelines (CPGs), (2) how frequently TTE reveals cardiac disease that may alter medical or anesthesia management, and (3) whether following CPGs reduces unnecessary TTE utilization without potentially missing important disease.


A retrospective review of data on 100 geriatric patients with a hip fracture who had undergone preoperative TTE was performed. Charts were reviewed to evaluate if TTE had been obtained in accordance with the published CPGs from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA). TTE reports were reviewed for the presence of disease that was important enough to cause modifications in anesthesia or perioperative management, including new left ventricular systolic or diastolic dysfunction, moderate or severe valvular disease, and pulmonary hypertension. Finally, the sensitivity and specificity of accordance with the ACC/AHA CPGs for predicting which patients would have TTE that identified important disease were calculated.


The TTE was ordered in accordance with the published ACC/AHA CPGs for 66% of the patients. TTE revealed disease with the potential to modify anesthesia or medical management in 14% of the patients—for all of whom the TTE had been indicated according to ACC/AHA guidelines (i.e., the guidelines were 100% sensitive). In this study population, following the ACC/AHA guidelines could have prevented the performance of TTE in 34% of the patients without missing any disease (40% specificity).


Preoperative TTE for patients with a hip fracture is frequently obtained outside the recommendations of established CPGs. Utilization of CPGs such as the ACC/AHA guidelines should be considered, as it may decrease variability in care and reduce unnecessary resource utilization without adversely affecting patient outcomes.

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