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Identification of the high-risk surgical patient 

Identification of the high-risk surgical patient
Identification of the high-risk surgical patient

Rupert Pearse

and Stephen James

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date: 01 July 2022

The low overall post-operative mortality rate conceals the existence of a sub-group of high-risk patients, which accounts for over 80% of post-operative deaths. Age, co-morbid disease, limited functional capacity, and an emergency presentation for major surgery are hallmarks risk. The magnitude, duration, and consequences of post-operative morbidity are determined by a complex interplay between the indication for surgery, the resulting tissue injury, and patient factors. A number of methods including risk scoring and cardiopulmonary exercise testing can be used to identify the high-risk group. Efforts should be made throughout the peri-operative period to prevent the occurrence of any post-operative complications, as they all carry significant long-term implications.

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