Frequency of atrial flutter after adult lung transplantation

Am J Cardiol. 2011 Mar 15;107(6):922-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2010.10.076. Epub 2011 Jan 19.


Lung transplantation, which involves an anastomosis of the graft to the native left atrium, may increase the risk of left-side atrial flutter (AFL). Our aim was to evaluate the incidence, predisposing conditions, and course of AFL after lung transplantation in adults. Two hundred sixty-nine consecutive patients who underwent lung transplantation were studied retrospectively. All patients received a preoperative echocardiogram and postoperative electrocardiographic monitoring. All 12-lead electrocardiograms were reviewed. Typical or atypical AFL was diagnosed by 2 independent reviewers based on accepted criteria. Predictors of AFL were investigated separately using univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses. AFL occurred in 35 of 269 patients (13%) over a mean of 12 days after transplantation. All patients who developed AFL had no previous atrial arrhythmia. Of these 35 patients, 24 (68.6%) had atypical AFL by electrocardiographic criteria. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) were 2.9 times more likely to have AFL than those patients with lung transplant without IPF (p = 0.009). Other independent risk factors for AFL were advanced age and preoperative left atrial enlargement. Only 3 of 35 patients (8.6%) with AFL had persistent atrial arrhythmia and needed electrophysiologic study and ablation. In conclusion, AFL is common soon after lung transplantation. Those with IPF, advanced age, or left atrial enlargement are at increased risk. In most cases, AFL is a self-limited arrhythmia that resolves spontaneously with no need for ablation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Atrial Flutter / diagnostic imaging
  • Atrial Flutter / epidemiology*
  • Atrial Flutter / etiology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electrophysiologic Techniques, Cardiac
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Lung Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / complications
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors