Sinus nodal function and risk for atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass graft surgery

Charles W. Hogue*, Kriton S. Filos, Richard B. Schuessler, Thoralf M. Sundt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Nonsurgical patients with sinus node dysfunction are at high risk for atrial tachyarrhythmias, but whether a similar relation exists for atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass graft surgery is not clear. The purpose of this study was to evaluate sinus nodal function before and after coronary artery bypass graft surgery and to evaluate its relation with the risk for postoperative atrial arrhythmias. Methods: Sixty patients without complications having elective coronary artery bypass graft surgery underwent sinus nodal function testing by measurement of sinoatrial conduction time (SACT) and corrected sinus nodal recovery time (CSNRT). Patients were categorized based on whether postoperative atrial fibrillation developed. Results: Twenty patients developed atrial fibrillation between postoperative days 1 through 3. For patients remaining in sinus rhythm (n = 40), sinoatrial conduction times were no different and corrected sinus nodal recovery times were shorter after surgery when compared with measurements obtained after anesthesia induction. Sinus node function test results before surgery were similar between the sinus rhythm and the atrial fibrillation groups. After surgery, patients who later developed atrial fibrillation had longer sinoatrial conduction times compared with the sinus rhythm group (P = 0.006), but corrected sinus nodal recover time was not different between these groups. A sinoatrial conduction time > 96 ms measured at this time point was associated with a 7.3-fold increased risk of postoperative atrial fibrillation (sensitivity, 62%; specificity, 81%; positive and negative predictive values, 56% and 85%, respectively; area under the receiver operator characteristic curve, 0.72). Conclusions: These data show that sinus nodal function is not adversely affected by uncomplicated coronary artery bypass surgery. Patients who later developed atrial fibrillation, however, had prolonged sinoatrial conduction immediately after surgery compared with patients remaining in sinus rhythm. These results suggest that injury to atrial conduction tissue at the time of surgery predisposes to postoperative atrial fibrillation and that assessment of sinoatrial conduction times could provide a means of identifying patients at high risk for postoperative atrial fibrillation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1286-1292
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000


  • Arrhythmias cardiac
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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