Early postoperative arrhythmias after pediatric cardiac surgery

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2006 Jun;131(6):1296-300. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2006.02.010.


Objective: Early postoperative arrhythmias are a known complication of cardiac surgery; however, little data exists specific to pediatrics. The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence and risk factors associated with the development of arrhythmias immediately after surgery in a pediatric population.

Methods: Data were collected in a prospective observational format from pediatric patients undergoing cardiac surgery between September 2000 and May 2003. This format included age, anatomy, surgical repair, and serum magnesium and calcium levels, as well as cardiopulmonary bypass and aortic crossclamp times. Patients were continuously monitored, and hemodynamically significant arrhythmias were recorded.

Results: Arrhythmias occurred in 28 of the 189 patients enrolled (15%) including 16 with junctional ectopic tachycardia, 7 with complete atrioventricular block, 4 with ventricular tachycardia, and 1 with re-entrant supraventricular tachycardia. Significant differences were found between the arrhythmia and nonarrhythmia groups with regard to age (22 vs 45 months), cardiopulmonary bypass time (189 vs 109 minutes), and aortic crossclamp time (105 vs 44 minutes); P < .05. Magnesium and calcium levels were not significantly different between the groups. Two repairs carried an increased risk: complete atrioventricular septal defect repair, 8 of 11 patients (72%), and the arterial switch 5 of 8 patients (62.5%); P < .05. Atrioventricular septal defects had an even higher incidence when controlled for age, bypass time, and crossclamp time (odds ratio = 7.65).

Conclusions: Hemodynamically significant postoperative arrhythmias are a frequent complication of pediatric cardiac surgery. Younger age and longer bypass and crossclamp times are risk factors for arrhythmia. In addition, the repair of atrioventricular septal defects carries an independent risk of arrhythmias.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors