Epidemiology of Postoperative Junctional Ectopic Tachycardia in Infants Undergoing Cardiac Surgery

Ann Thorac Surg. 2024 Jun;117(6):1178-1185. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2024.03.002. Epub 2024 Mar 12.


Background: Junctional ectopic tachycardia (JET) complicates congenital heart surgery in 2% to 8.3% of cases. JET is associated with postoperative morbidity in single-center studies. We used the Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium data registry to provide a multicenter epidemiologic description of treated JET.

Methods: This is a retrospective study (February 2019-August 2022) of patients with treated JET. Inclusion criteria were (1) <12 months old at the index operation, and (2) treated for JET <72 hours after surgery. Diagnosis was defined by receiving treatment (pacing, cooling, and medications). A multilevel logistic regression analysis with hospital random effect identified JET risk factors. Impact of JET on outcomes was estimated by margins/attributable risk analysis using previous risk-adjustment models.

Results: Among 24,073 patients from 63 centers, 1436 (6.0%) were treated for JET with significant center variability (0% to 17.9%). Median time to onset was 3.4 hours, with 34% present on admission. Median duration was 2 days (interquartile range, 1-4 days). Tetralogy of Fallot, atrioventricular canal, and ventricular septal defect repair represented >50% of JET. Patient characteristics independently associated with JET included neonatal age, Asian race, cardiopulmonary bypass time, open sternum, and early postoperative inotropic agents. JET was associated with increased risk-adjusted durations of mechanical ventilation (incidence rate ratio, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.5-1.7) and intensive care unit length of stay (incidence rate ratio, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.2-1.3), but not mortality.

Conclusions: JET is treated in 6% of patients with substantial center variability. JET contributes to increased use of postoperative resources. High center variability warrants further study to identify potential modifiable factors that could serve as targets for improvement efforts to ameliorate deleterious outcomes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications* / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tachycardia, Ectopic Junctional* / epidemiology
  • Tachycardia, Ectopic Junctional* / etiology
  • United States / epidemiology