The B-type natriuretic peptides; B-type natriuretic peptide and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide, are increasing being used as biomarkers for the diagnosis, management and prognostication of cardiac failure, but their application in the peri-operative period is unclear. This review examines the current understanding of the role of B-type natriuretic peptides in both the operative and non-operative settings. Normal values, diagnostic thresholds, monitoring targets and significant prognostic levels are identified. Using this as a background, the role of B-type natriuretic peptides in the prediction of peri-operative mortality and morbidity is examined and potential confounders, such as renal failure and body mass index, which may impact significantly on the utility of the biomarkers, are discussed. Clinical recommendations with regard to its use are made and a research agenda is proposed for future peri-operative studies.
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