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A Journal on Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery

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The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2008 April;49(2):261-7

language: English

Is use of temporary pacing wires following coronary bypass surgery really necessary?

Imren Y. 1, Benson A. A. 2, Oktar G. L. 1, Cheema F. H. 2, Comas G. 2, Naseem T. 2

1 Cardiovascular Surgery Department Gazi University Medical Faculty, Ankara, Turkey
2 Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Columbia University New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY, USA


Aim. Temporary epicardial pacing wires (TEPW) which are routinely used after coronary bypass grafting may result in significant complications. We sought to identify variables that predict TEPW implantation and thereby limit their use.
Methods. This prospective study enrolled 564 patients (296 underwent coronary artery bypass grafting with cardiopulmonary bypass [ONCAB] and 268 underwent off-pump coronary artery bypass grafting, OPCAB). TEPW were placed in patients with the intraoperative presence of one or more of the following criteria: sinus bradycardia, sinus arrest, nodal/junctional rhythms, atrioventricular block, bundle branch block, ventricular tachycardia, or onset of atrial fibrillation.
Results. Only 31 (5.5%) patients [ONCAB: 20 (6.8%) (ventricular: 14, bichamber: 6); OPCAB: 11 (4.1%) (ventricular: 9, bichamber: 2)] had temporary epicardial pacing wires implanted intraoperatively. Indications for using temporary epicardial pacing wires for ONCAB were sinus bradycardia (8), nodal/junctional rhythms (3), atrioventricular block (3), atrial fibrillation (4), and bundle branch block (2), and for OPCAB were sinus bradycardia (8), nodal/junctional rhythms (2), and atrioventricular block (1). Mean duration for pacing was 22.4 h for the ONCAB group and 11.3 h for the OPCAB group. There were no temporary epicardial pacing wires associated complications. One paced OPCAB patient required a permanent pacemaker and 2 non-paced OPCAB patients required transvenous pacing wires. Univariate and multivariate analyses were also conducted to determine risk factors for TEPW.
Conclusion. TEPW implantation is overused in cardiac surgery and by identifying independent predictors for pacing we conclude that TEPW use should be limited to a select few.

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