Cocaine has a short biological half-life, but inactive urine metabolites may be detectable for a week following use. It is unclear if patients who test positive for cocaine but have a normal electrocardiogram and vital signs have a greater percentage of hemodynamic events intraoperatively.
A total of 328 patients with a history of cocaine use who were scheduled for elective noncardiac surgery under general anesthesia were enrolled. Patients were categorized into cocaine-positive versus cocaine-negative groups based on the results of their urine cocaine toxicology test. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate whether asymptomatic cocaine-positive patients had similar percentages of intraoperative hemodynamic events, defined as (1) a mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) of <65 or >105 mm Hg and (2) a heart rate (HR) of <50 or >100 beats per minute (bpm) compared to cocaine-negative patients. The study was powered to assess if the 2 groups had an equivalent mean percent of intraoperative hemodynamic events within specific limits using an equivalence test of means consisting of 2 one-sided tests.
The cocaine-positive group had a blood pressure (BP) that was outside the set limits 19.4% (standard deviation [SD] 17.7%) of the time versus 23.1% (SD 17.7%) in the cocaine-negative group (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.5–7.0). The cocaine-positive group had a HR outside the set limits 9.6% (SD 16.2%) of the time versus 8.2% (SD 14.9%) in the cocaine-negative group (95% CI, 4.3–1.5). Adjusted for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), smoking status, and the presence of comorbid hypertension, renal disease, and psychiatric illness, the cocaine-positive and cocaine-negative patients were similar within a 7.5% margin of equivalence for MAP data (β coefficient = 2%, P = .003, CI, 2–6) and within a 5% margin of equivalence for HR data (β coefficient = 0.2%, P < .001, CI, 4–3).
Asymptomatic cocaine-positive patients undergoing elective noncardiac surgery under general anesthesia have similar percentages of intraoperative hemodynamic events compared to cocaine-negative patients.