Postoperative arrhythmia

Curr Opin Cardiol. 2003 Mar;18(2):73-8. doi: 10.1097/00001573-200303000-00001.


Postoperative arrhythmia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality after cardiac surgery for congenital heart disease. Rhythm disturbances that may be well tolerated in a normal heart often cause hemodynamic instability when they occur in the immediate postoperative period. In the face of pre-existing myocardial dysfunction resulting from preoperative pressure or volume overload, patients with congenital heart conditions are especially vulnerable to rhythm disturbances after cardiac surgery. Cardiopulmonary bypass, intraoperative injury to the conduction system and myocardium, postoperative metabolic abnormalities, electrolyte disturbances, and increased adrenergic tone in response to the stress of the surgery or inotropic agents are also known factors associated with increased risk of arrhythmia in the immediate postoperative period. Surgically related arrhythmia can also present in the late postoperative period, particularly in association with surgical incision sites and surgically induced hemodynamic abnormalities. Early and late postoperative arrhythmias are important risk factors for morbidity and mortality after surgical treatment of many forms of congenital heart disease. This review describes the incidence of the most common forms of arrhythmia and recent advances in their diagnosis and treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmia, Sinus / epidemiology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Heart Block / epidemiology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Tachycardia / epidemiology