Atrial tachyarrhythmias and permanent pacing after pediatric heart transplantation

Kathryn K. Collins, Ravi R. Thiagarajan, Clifford Chin, Anne M. Dubin, George F. Van Hare, Robert C. Robbins, John E. Mayer, Daniel Bernstein, Charles I. Berul, Elizabeth D. Blume

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Atrial tachyarrhythmias have been reported in as high as 50% of adult heart recipients. Limited information is available on arrhythmias in pediatric transplant patients. Our objective was to determine the prevalence and significance of atrial tachyarrhythmias and permanent pacing following pediatric heart transplantation. Methods: A retrospective review of the medical records, electrocardiograms, and Holter recordings of all consecutive patients following heart transplantation at Children's Hospital, Boston (n = 104) and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford (n = 123) was performed. The study group consisted of 227 patients with a median age at transplant of 10.2 yrs (1 day-23.3 yrs). Results: Atrial tachyarrhythmias occurred in 32 patients (14%) at a median of 15 days post-transplant (1 day-9.2 yrs) and included atrial flutter (n = 13), atrial fibrillation (n = 7), ectopic atrial tachycardia (n = 5), atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia or atrioventricular node reentry (n = 5), and other (n = 2). Atrial flutter was the only tachyarrhythmia associated with allograft rejection (6/13 atrial flutter vs. 0/7 atrial fibrillation vs. 0/5 ectopic atrial tachycardia, p = 0.03). Patients with atrial fibrillation had a 2.5 fold (95%CI 1.7-3.5) higher risk of death or retransplant compared to patients without atrial fibrillation. Ectopic atrial tachycardia tended to occur in younger recipients compared to atrial fibrillation and flutter (2.7 yrs vs 18.6 yrs and 8.5 yrs respectively, p = 0.06) and was associated with a benign clinical course. There was no association between atrial tachyarrhythmias and graft ischemic time, surgical technique, or coronary artery disease. Pacemakers were required in 12 patients (5.2%), 7 with sinus node dysfunction and 5 for intermittent complete atrioventricular block. There was no consistent association between the need for permanent pacing and coronary artery disease, rejection, or surgical technique. Conclusions: Atrial tachyarrhythmias and permanent pacing were uncommon in this cohort of pediatric heart transplant recipients. Association with cardiac rejection, clinical course, and mortality varied depending on the tachyarrhythmia mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1126-1133
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation


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