Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation and Flutter in Liver Transplantation: An Important Predictor of Early and Late Morbidity and Mortality

BACKGROUND:

Postoperative atrial fibrillation/flutter (POAF) is the most common perioperative arrhythmia and may be particularly problematic after liver transplant (LT). This study is a single-center, retrospective analysis of POAF to determine its incidence following LT, identify risk factors, assess its impact on clinical outcomes, and summarize management strategies.

METHODS:

The records of all patients who underwent LT between 2010 and 2018 were reviewed. Extracted data included pre-LT demographics and cardiac evaluation, in-hospital post-LT cardiac events, early and late complications, and survival.

RESULTS:

Among 1011 patients, the incidence of post-LT POAF was 10.1%. Using binary logistic regression, pre-LT history of atrial fibrillation was the strongest predictor of POAF (Odds Ratio (OR) 6.7, Confidence Interval (CI) 2.0-22.6, p<0.001), followed by history of coronary artery disease (CAD) (OR 2.5, CI 1.1-5.8, p=0.03). Cardiac stress testing abnormality and CAD on cardiac catheterization were also associated with higher risk. Median time to POAF onset after LT was 3 days, with 72% resolving within 48 hours. POAF patients had greater hospital length of stay, death during the LT admission, and 90-day and 1-year mortality. POAF was an independent risk factor for post-LT mortality (OR 2.0, CI 1.3-3.0, p<0.01). Amiodarone was administered to 73% of POAF patients with no evidence of increased serum alanine aminotransferase levels.

CONCLUSION:

POAF occurred in 10.1% of post-LT patients, with early onset and rapid resolution in most affected patients. POAF patients, however, had significant morbidity and mortality, suggesting that POAF is an important marker for worse early and late post-LT outcomes.