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Anaerobic threshold, is it a magic number to determine fitness for surgery?

Paul Older

Author Affiliations

Department of Anaesthetics, Western Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Perioperative Medicine 2013, 2:2  doi:10.1186/2047-0525-2-2

Published: 21 February 2013


The use of cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) to evaluate cardiac and respiratory function was pioneered as part of preoperative assessment in the mid 1990s. Surgical procedures have changed since then. The patient population may have aged; however, the physiology has remained the same. The use of an accurate physiological evaluation remains as germane today as it was then. Certainly no ‘magic’ is involved. The author recognizes that not everyone accepts the classical theories of the anaerobic threshold (AT) and that there is some discussion around lactate and exercise. The article looks at aerobic capacity as an important predictor of perioperative mortality and also looks at some aspects of CPET relative to surgical risk evaluation.