Postoperative troponin I values: Insult or injury?

K. A. Horvath, M. A. Parker, J. W. Frederiksen, A. S. Palmer, D. A. Fullerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Troponin I (TnI) is increasingly employed as a highly specific marker of acute myocardial ischemia. The value of this marker after cardiac surgery is unclear. Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to measure serum TnI levels prospectively at 1, 6, and 72 h after elective cardiac operations. In addition, TnI levels were measured from the shed mediastinal blood at 1 and 6 h postoperatively. Serum values were correlated with cross clamp time, type of operation, incidence of perioperative myocardial infarction, as assessed by postoperative electrocardiograms (ECG) and regional wall motion, as documented by intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). Methods: Sixty patients underwent the following types of surgery: coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) (n = 45), valve repair/replacement (n = 10), and combination valve and coronary surgery (n = 5). Myocardial protection consisted of moderate systemic hypothermia (30-32 °C), cold blood cardioplegia, and topical cooling for all patients. Results: Of 60 patients, 57 (95%) had elevated TnI levels, consistent with myocardial injury, 1 h postoperatively. This incidence increased to 98% (59/60) at 6 h postoperatively. There was a positive correlation between the length of cross clamp time and initial postoperative serum TnI (r = 0.70). There was no difference in the serum TnI values whether or not surgery was for ischemic heart disease (CABG or CABG + valve versus valve). There were no postoperative myocardial infarctions as assessed by serial ECGs. There was no evidence of diminished regional wall motion by TEE. Levels of TnI in the mediastinal shed blood were greater than assay in 58% (35/60) of the patients at 1 h and in 88% (53/60) at 6 h postoperatively. Patients who received an autotransfusion of mediastinal shed blood (n = 22) had on average a 10-fold postoperative increase in serum TnI levels between 1 and 6 h. Patients who did not receive autotransfusion average less than doubled their TnI levels over the same interval. At 72 h, TnI levels were below the initial postoperative levels but still indicative of myocardial injury. Conclusion: Postoperative TnI levels are elevated after all types of cardiac surgery. There is a strong correlation between intraoperative ischemic time and postoperative TnI level. Further elevation of TnI is significantly enhanced by reinfusion of mediastinal shed blood. Despite these postoperative increases in TnI, there was no evidence of myocardial infarction by ECG or TEE. The postoperative TnI value is even less meaningful after autotransfusion of shed mediastinal blood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-733
Number of pages3
JournalClinical Cardiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac surgery
  • Troponin I

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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