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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


LIRA, Rodrigo P. C. et al. Are routine preoperative medical tests needed with cataract surgery?. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2001, vol.10, n.1, pp.13-17. ISSN 1680-5348.

Objective. The objective of this study was to investigate whether routine medical testing before cataract surgery reduces the rate of complications during the perioperative period in adults. Methods. The study was carried out in an academic medical center in Brazil, between 10 February 2000 and 10 January 2001. The scheduled cataract operations were randomly assigned to one of two groups: 1) to be preceded by routine testing (the "routine-testing group") or 2) not to be preceded by routine medical testing (the "selective-testing group"). If the patient was assigned to the selective-testing group, it was requested that no preoperative testing be performed unless the patient presented with a new or worsening medical problem that would warrant medical evaluation with testing. In the case of patients assigned to the routine-testing group, three tests were requested: a 12-lead electrocardiogram, a complete blood count, and measurements of serum glucose. Results. The sample of 1 025 patients scheduled to undergo cataract surgery was comprised of 512 assigned to the routine-testing group and of 513 assigned to the selective-testing group. The two groups had similar proportions of operations canceled and not subsequently rescheduled, 2% in each group. The cumulative rate of medical events was similar in the two groups, 9.6% in the routine-testing group and 9.7% in the selective-testing group (P = 0.923). The types of medical events were also similar in both groups. Discussion. The results of this study suggest that routine medical testing before cataract surgery does not reduce the rate of complications during the perioperative period. The results also suggest it would be more efficient not to request routine preoperative tests unless indicated by patient history or physical examination.

Keywords : Cataracts; utilization of health services; elderly; diagnostic tests; preoperative care.

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