A Comprehensive Update on Aspirin Management During Noncardiac Surgery

Neal S. Gerstein, Cory L. Albrechtsen, Nestor Mercado, Joaquin E. Cigarroa, Peter M. Schulman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Aspirin is considered critical lifelong therapy for patients with established cardiovascular (CV) disease (including coronary artery, cerebrovascular, and peripheral arterial diseases) and is consequently one of the most widely used medications worldwide. However, the indications for aspirin use continue to evolve and recent trials question its efficacy for primary prevention. Although one third of patients undergoing noncardiac surgery and at risk for a major adverse CV event receive aspirin perioperatively, uncertainty still exists about how aspirin should be optimally managed in this context, and significant practice variability remains. Recent trials suggest that the risks of continuing aspirin during the perioperative period outweigh the benefits in many cases, but data on patients with high CV risk remain limited. We performed a comprehensive PubMed and Medline literature search using the following keywords: aspirin, aspirin withdrawal, perioperative, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, and CV disease; we manually reviewed all relevant citations for inclusion. Patients taking aspirin for the primary prevention of CV disease should likely discontinue it during the perioperative period, especially when there is a high risk of bleeding. Patients with established CV disease but without a coronary stent should likely continue aspirin during the perioperative period unless undergoing closed-space surgery. Patients with a history of coronary stenting also likely need aspirin continuation throughout the perioperative period for nonclosed space procedures. Perioperative clinicians need to balance the risks of ceasing aspirin before surgery against its continuation during the perioperative interval using a patient-specific strategy. The guidance on decision-making with regard to perioperative aspirin cessation or continuation using currently available clinical data from studies in high-risk patients along with nonclinical aspirin studies is conflicting and does not enable a simplified or unified answer. However, pertinent guidelines on CV disease management provide a basic framework for aspirin management, and large trial findings provide some insight into the safety of perioperative aspirin cessation in some contexts, although uncertainty on perioperative aspirin still exists. This review provides an evidence-based update on perioperative aspirin management in patients undergoing noncardiac surgery with a focus on recommendations for perioperative clinicians on continuing versus holding aspirin during this context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1123
Number of pages13
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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