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Anesth Analg. 2004 Feb;98(2):303-10, table of contents.

Increases in P-wave dispersion predict postoperative atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

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Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common complication after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. In this study we examined the effect of surgery on atrial electrophysiology as measured by P-wave characteristics and to determine the potential predictive value of P-wave characteristics on the incidences of postoperative AF in patients undergoing CABG surgery. Patients undergoing elective CABG surgery were monitored by continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) telemetry during the in-hospital period until discharge for the occurrence of postoperative AF. Differences in P-wave characteristics (P-wave duration, amplitude, axis, dispersion, PR interval, segment depression, and dispersion) were compared between the pre- and postoperative 12-lead ECG measurements, and also between patients with and without postoperative AF. The association of postoperative AF and potential clinical predictors and P-wave characteristics were determined by multivariate logistic regression. Postoperative AF occurred in 81 (27%) of 300 patients. Univariate analysis showed that patients who subsequently developed postoperative AF compared with those without AF were significantly older (mean age 68 +/- 8 versus 63 +/- 10 yr, P < 0.0001), had a larger body surface area (BSA) (2.03 +/- 0.24 versus 1.92 +/- 0.22 m(2), P = 0.0002), were more likely to have a history of AF (8 of 81 versus 1 of 219, P = 0.003), used preoperative antiarrhythmic medications more frequently (7 of 81 versus 4 of 219, P = 0.01), and had a more frequent rate of return to the operating room for postoperative complications (9 of 81 versus 9 of 219, P = 0.029). Furthermore, the postoperative P-wave duration decreased to a larger extent (mean change -11.3 +/- 0.1 ms versus -8.4 +/- 0.1 ms, P < 0.0001), and the P-wave dispersion increased postoperatively to a larger extent (3.1 +/- 15.5 ms versus -1.6 +/- 14.6 ms, P = 0.028) in those who subsequently developed AF compared with those without AF. Multivariate logistic regression showed age (odds ratio [OR] = 1.1, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.06-1.15, P < 0.0001), BSA (OR = 38.1, 95% CI: 8.2-176, P < 0.0001), and an increase in postoperative P-wave dispersion (OR = 1.03, 95% CI: 1.01-1.05, P = 0.01) to be independent predictors of postoperative AF. No surgical factor was identified to be responsible for this postoperative change in atrial electrophysiology.


In addition to clinical factors, such as advanced age and body surface area, we demonstrated that electrophysiologic changes involving an increase in P-wave dispersion postoperatively independently predict atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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