JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Jul 1;5(7):e2223225. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.23225.
IMPORTANCE: New-onset postoperative arrhythmia, which most often presents as postoperative atrial fibrillation (AF), is a frequent complication in patients undergoing visceral surgery of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Its relevance for patients’ outcomes is unknown.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the incidence of arrhythmia after upper gastrointestinal surgery, its risk factors, and its short- and long-term implications for patient outcomes.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cohort study included 1210 patients who underwent surgery of the upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, or pancreas) at the University Medical Center Göttingen in Germany between January 2012 and December 2018. Follow-up was performed between February and May 2020. Patients were excluded if they had a preexisting cardiac arrhythmia or pacemaker.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) was recorded in most cases of postoperative arrhythmia; therefore, the analysis focused on postoperative AF. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to assess associations between surgical complications and postoperative AF occurrence, with odds ratios and 95% CIs reported.
RESULTS: A total of 1210 patients (median [IQR] age, 62 [19-90] years; 704 [58.2%] men) were enrolled in this study. Postoperative arrhythmia was recorded in 100 patients (8.3%). Among the different procedures, esophagectomy was associated with the highest incidence of postoperative AF (45.5% in complex esophageal resections and 17.1% in elective thoracoabdominal esophagectomies). The incidence of postoperative AF was associated with prolonged length of stay in the intensive care unit (23.4 days for patients with postoperative AF vs 5.9 days for those without; P < .001). Four factors were associated with the occurrence of postoperative AF: patients’ age (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.03-1.08; P < .001), intraoperative surgical complications (OR, 2.47; 95% CI, 1.29-4.74; P = .006), infections (OR, 2.23; 95% CI, 1.31-3.80; P = .003), and organ failure (OR, 4.01; 95% CI, 2.31-6.99; P < .001). In the multivariable analysis, postoperative AF (OR, 7.08; 95% CI, 2.75-18.23; P < .001) and sepsis (OR, 10.98; 95% CI, 3.91-30.81; P < .001) were associated with in-hospital mortality. At a median 19-month follow-up, 20 of 74 patients (27.0%) with postoperative AF developed recurring episodes of arrhythmia after discharge.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This cohort study found that the postoperative AF was associated with an increased length of stay in the intensive care unit and in-hospital mortality in patients after upper gastrointestinal tract surgery. In addition, postoperative AF was associated with development of permanent or paroxysmal arrhythmia after discharge.