Editorials

New arrhythmias after non-cardiothoracic surgery

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.333.7571.715 (Published 05 October 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:715
  1. Stewart R Walsh, research registrar,
  2. Tjun Tang, research registrar,
  3. Michael E Gaunt, Consultant (michael.gaunt@addenbrookes.nhs.uk),
  4. Hank J Schneider, consultant
  1. Cambridge Vascular Unit, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ
  2. Cambridge Vascular Unit, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ
  3. Department of General Surgery, James Paget Healthcare NHS Trust, Great Yarmouth NR31 6LA

    Look for sepsis, among other causes

    Postoperative arrhythmias are a problem that most doctors associate with cardiothoracic surgery, but they may also complicate major abdominal surgery. The incidence depends on the type of operation and the extent of cardiac monitoring after surgery (arrhythmias are more likely to be detected in patients with continuous monitoring as opposed to intermittent monitoring). Rates ranged from 4% in a mixed cohort of patients having major general, vascular, and orthopaedic surgery to 20% in patients having elective colorectal surgery.1 2 Most of the arrhythmias are atrial in origin.1 2

    Arrhythmias are associated with a longer post-operative stay and increased mortality,3 4 but few papers deal with postoperative arrhythmias, and their methodological quality is poor, with only a handful of prospective series. This contrasts with the considerable amount of work done on other complications of major abdominal surgery, such as anastomotic leakage. …

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