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Korean Circ J. 2009 Mar;39(3):100-4. doi: 10.4070/kcj.2009.39.3.100. Epub 2009 Mar 25.

The incidence and predictors of postoperative atrial fibrillation after noncardiothoracic surgery.

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1
Division of Cardiology, Cardiac and Vascular Center, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

The incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation after noncardiothoracic surgery is known to be very rare; there have been few prior studies on this topic. We evaluated the incidence, predictors, and prognosis of atrial fibrillation after noncardiothoracic surgery.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS:

Patients who underwent noncardiothoracic surgery at our medical center under general anesthesia were enrolled. We reviewed medical records retrospectively and evaluated whether the atrial fibrillation developed postoperatively or was pre-existing. Patients who had a previous history of atrial fibrillation or atrial fibrillation on the pre-operative electrocardiogram were excluded.

RESULTS:

Between January 2005 and December 2006, 7,756 patients (mean age: 69 years, male: 46%) underwent noncardiothoracic surgery in Samsung Medical Center and 30 patients (0.39%) were diagnosed with newly-developed atrial fibrillation. Patients who developed atrial fibrillation were significantly older and had significantly lower body mass indexes. Newly-developed atrial fibrillation was detected in 0.53% of the male patients and 0.26% of the female patients. The incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation after an emergency operation was more frequent than that of elective operations (p<0.001). According to the multivariate analysis, age and emergency operations were independent predictors for new onset atrial fibrillation after noncardiothoracic surgery. Postoperative atrial fibrillation developed after a median of 2 days after the noncardiothoracic surgery and was associated with a longer hospitalization and increased in-hospital mortality. Four (13.3%) patients died and the causes of death were non-cardiovascular events such as pneumonia or hemorrhage.

CONCLUSION:

Postoperative atrial fibrillation after noncardiothoracic surgery is a rare complication and is associated with older age and emergency operations. Patients who develop atrial fibrillation have longer hospitalizations and higher in-hospital mortality rates.

KEYWORDS:

Atrial fibrillation; Postoperative complications; Surgery

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