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Am J Surg. 2001 Dec;182(6):713-5.

Postoperative atrial fibrillation in noncardiothoracic surgical patients.

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Department of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, 9200 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.



Atrial fibrillation is a common arrhythmia whose prevalence increases with age. It is a well-known complication of cardiothoracic surgery, but the incidence and contributing factors to the development of atrial fibrillation in noncardiothoracic surgical patients are less well known. This study was undertaken to investigate the incidence, association with known risk factors, treatment, and outcome of atrial fibrillation in postoperative noncardiac, nonthoracic surgical patients.


A 2-year retrospective review was performed of all noncardiac, nonthoracic surgical patients that developed atrial fibrillation within 30 days of operation. Incidence, risk factors, treatment and outcome related to the development of this arrhythmia were analyzed.


Fifty-one patients developed atrial fibrillation during this study period for an incidence of 0.37%. Most had preexisting cardiac risk factors, a positive fluid balance, or had electrolyte or arterial oxygen saturation abnormalities. Two thirds were discharged home on new cardiac medications, 16% remained in atrial fibrillation, and 12% died.


New onset atrial fibrillation in this group of noncardiothoracic surgical patients is an uncommon problem that is a morbid event associated with significant mortality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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