OBJECTIVES: Bidirectional cavopulmonary anastomosis (BDCPA) is part of the staged Fontan palliation for congenital heart defects with single-ventricle morphology. The aim of this study was to describe incidence and characteristics of early postoperative arrhythmias in patients undergoing BDCPA.
METHODS: Retrospective analysis of 60 patients undergoing BDCPA at the age of <12 months from 2001 to 2008 at a single centre. Arrhythmias were subclassified in sinus bradycardia, premature atrial/ventricular contraction, supraventricular tachycardia and atrioventricular block. The groups were compared according to age at operation and diagnosis. Postoperative follow-up data were included until Fontan completion.
RESULTS: Postoperative arrhythmia was observed in 20 patients: 12 temporary and 8 persisting until hospital discharge. Sinus bradycardia is a common postoperative arrhythmia and occurred in 16 patients (9 transient, 7 persistent until hospital discharge). One patient undergoing BDCPA and a Damus-Kaye-Stansel procedure had a persisting first-degree atrioventricular block. The occurrence of a postoperative arrhythmia was independent of age and diagnostic group (hypoplastic left heart vs non-hypoplasic left heart). After hospital discharge, five of the eight arrhythmia resolved spontaneously resulting in 2 patients with sinus bradycardia and 1 patient with a first-degree AV block immediately before the Fontan completion was undertaken.
CONCLUSIONS: Postoperative arrhythmias in patients with BDCPA occur early after surgery and are temporary. Severe and life-threatening arrhythmias are rare although the interventions are complex and the patients very young. The most common arrhythmia is sinus bradycardia.