Saturday, July 2, 2011

Many guidelines equal no guildelines for cardiac evaluation before renal tranplantation

The degree of cardiac testing for potential transplant recipients is highly variable and depends on the practices of the particular transplant center. Multiple guidelines have been proposed by experts in the field however there is a huge variability between each guideline. At the two ends of the spectrum are the KDOQI guidelines which suggest universal testing for CAD at regular intervals depending on risk, and the ACC/ AHA who recommend testing only for symptomatic patients or patients who can not achieve 4 mets of activity. A recent article in cJASN by Friedman et al. demonstrates this beautifully(1). The authors had performed cardiac testing in 87% of their patients then retrospectively applied the KDOQI, AST, Lisbon and ACC/AHA criteria to thier patients to assess how many would have been tested. Turns out that 100%, 92%, 68% and 20% would have been screened respectively. The authors discovered ischemic disease in 17 (10%) of their patients and 10 of them underwent revascularization (7 had single vessel PCI). KDOQI and AST guidelines would have picked up all of the cases, Lisbon criteria would have picked up 16 patients and ACC/AHA would have picked up 4 of the patients with ischemia. The problem is that it is not clear whether identifying ischemia or performing revascularization in such patients is of any benefit in reducing cardiovascular event rates! In fact there are well designed studies that show pre-surgical revascularization in all patients with ischemic heart disease does not reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing major vascular surgery(2) - but of course these studies were not in dialysis patients...

What we need is a large multicenter randomized controlled trial to evaluate the potential benefit in pre-transplant cardiac testing +/- revascularization in reducing cardiac morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing renal transplantation - to settle the question once and for all.

1. Friedman et al. A Call to Action: Variability in Guidelines for Cardiac Evaluation before Renal Transplantation. cJASN 2011;6:1185
2. McFalls et al. Coronary-artery revascularization before elective major vascular surgery. N Engl J Med 2004;351: 2795
2804, 2004

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