Background: Arrhythmias in adult orthotopic heart transplant (OHT) recipients are common and have been used as predictors of rejection. Because of the paucity of information in pediatric OHT recipients, the purpose of this study was to determine the incidence and correlation of arrhythmias with rejection or with coronary artery disease (CAD) in children.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records, electrocardiograms (ECGs), and 24-hour ambulatory ECGs of patients who underwent OHT from January 1984 to December 1999. We excluded arrhythmias occurring in the first 2 weeks after OHT.
Results: Sixty-nine patients underwent OHT, received triple-immunosuppression therapy, were discharged home, and have been followed for a mean of 4.7 years (0.3-13 years). Each patient had an average of 10 ECGs and three 24-hour ECGs. Twenty-six patients had 33 arrhythmias: sinus bradycardia (n = 9), atrial tachycardia (n = 9), ventricular tachycardia (n = 3), and Wenckebach periodicity (n = 6). Sinus bradycardia was treated with theophylline in 8 patients, and 2 required pacemakers. Atrial tachycardias (atrial flutter in 4 patients and atrial ectopic tachycardia in 5) were treated with digoxin, propranolol, or procainamide. Ventricular tachycardia was treated with mexiletine, lidocaine, and amiodarone. There were 65 episodes of rejection, 20 of which were moderate/severe (> or =3B). Only Wenckebach was associated with the presence of either rejection or CAD (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: We noted clinically significant arrhythmias in 38% of the pediatric OHT recipients. Sinus bradycardia, atrial tachyarrhythmias, and ventricular tachycardia occurred with the same frequency. Only new-onset Wenckebach periodicity was noted in the presence of either CAD or rejection. No arrhythmia was of negative predictive value for rejection or CAD. From this data, we suggest that new-onset Wenckebach prompt evaluation for rejection or CAD.