Prevalence, Diagnosis, Perioperative Monitoring and Treatment of Right Ventricular Dysfunction and/or Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension in Cardiac Surgical Patients in Germany—A Postal Survey

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BackgroundSparse data are available on the prevalence of right ventricular dysfunction and/or pulmonary arterial hypertension in patients scheduled for cardiac surgery in Germany as well as on the intensity and modalities used for diagnosis, perioperative monitoring, and treatment of these comorbidities.MethodsA postal survey including questions on the prevalence of preoperative right ventricular dysfunction and/or pulmonary arterial hypertension in patients undergoing cardiac surgery in 2009 was sent to 81 German heart centers. Total 47 of 81 (58%) heart centers returned the questionnaires. The centers reported data on 51,095 patients, and 49.8% of the procedures were isolated coronary artery bypass grafting.ResultsData on the prevalence of preoperative pulmonary hypertension and/or right ventricular dysfunction were not available in 54% and 64.6% of centers. In the remaining hospitals, 19.5% of patients presented right heart dysfunction and 10% pulmonary arterial hypertension. Preoperative echocardiography was performed in only 45.3% of the coronary artery bypass grafting cases. Preoperative pharmacologic treatment of pulmonary hypertension or right ventricular dysfunction with oral sildenafil, inhaled prostanoids, or nitric oxide was initiated in 71% and 95.7% of the centers, respectively. Intra- and postoperative treatment was most frequently accomplished with phosphodiesterase-III inhibitors.ConclusionThe prevalence of preoperative right heart dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension in cardiac surgical patients in Germany seems to be substantial. However, in more than 50% of the patients, no preoperative data on right ventricular function and pulmonary arterial pressure are available. This may lead to underestimation of perioperative risk and inappropriate management of this high-risk population.

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