The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery vol:145 issue:4 pages:1028-32
OBJECTIVE: Postsurgical atrioventricular block may complicate surgery for congenital heart defects and is generally considered permanent when persisting longer than 14 days after surgery. In this study, we evaluate the occurrence of spontaneous late recovery of atrioventricular conduction in postsurgical chronic atrioventricular block and discuss its clinical implications. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed all cardiac surgical procedures on cardiopulmonary bypass between January 1993 and November 2010 in subjects younger than 18 years. Patients with postsurgical advanced second- or third-degree atrioventricular block persisting longer than 14 days after surgery were included. RESULTS: Of a total of 2850 cardiac surgical procedures on cardiopulmonary bypass, 59 (2.1%) were immediately complicated by chronic postsurgical atrioventricular block of advanced second (n = 4) or third degree (n = 55). In another 6 patients (0.2%), late occurrence of chronic advanced second- (n = 3) or third-degree (n = 3) atrioventricular block, without signs of any etiology other than previous surgery, was seen 0.4 to 10 years after surgery (median, 5.7 years). Late (>2 weeks) regression to either completely normal atrioventricular conduction or asymptomatic first-degree atrioventricular block occurred 3 weeks to 7 years (median, 3.1 years) after surgery in 7 (12%) patients with immediate postsurgical chronic atrioventricular block. CONCLUSIONS: Complete recovery of atrioventricular conduction or regression to asymptomatic first-degree atrioventricular block occurred in 12% of patients with postsurgical chronic second- or third-degree atrioventricular block. To prevent unnecessary adverse side effects of chronic ventricular pacing and to prolong battery longevity, ventricular pacing should be minimized in patients with recovered normal atrioventricular conduction.