A simple blood test might be able to predict a patient’s likelihood of survival after surgery, a new study suggests.
Researchers, who presented their study to the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester, measured the level of troponin — a protein that has been found to be released into the bloodstream during a heart attack — in blood samples taken from 993 patients before they underwent elective or emergency surgery.
None of the patients underwent cardiac surgery.
The study found that levels of the protein in the blood may be able to help doctors know which patients need more intensive monitoring after their operation.
A quarter of the patients who had troponin levels of 50 nanograms (ng) per litre or over before their surgery died within six months, the researchers found.
This figure rose to 37 per cent dying within a year of their operation.
Meanwhile, among patients who showed pre-operative troponin level of less than 17ng/litre, just 2.5 per cent died within six months.
This figure rose to 3.7 per cent of patients with lower levels of the protein dying within 12 months of their surgery.
The link between the raised troponin levels and a higher chance of death following surgery is not yet understood but the researchers suggested that a high troponin level may show that a person is suffering from underlying inflammation.
‘‘This test may help doctors to identify patients who could benefit from additional tests and medication to get them ready for their surgery and more intensive monitoring as they recover after their operation,’’ research fellow at James Cook University Hospital Matthew Jackson said.
‘‘Now we need to find out why troponin levels are raised in some patients before surgery, and why these patients are more likely to die, in order to identify treatments that could reduce the risk of death following non-cardiac surgery.’’