OBJECTIVE - The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors associated with the onset of atrial fibrillation after thoracic surgery to allow more targeted interventions in patients with the highest risk.
METHODS - A comprehensive prospective database was used to identify patients undergoing major thoracic surgery from January 1, 1998, through December 31, 2002. Data collection was performed at point of contact: at preoperative evaluation, the time of the operation, discharge, and postoperative visits. All patients undergoing resection of a lung, the esophagus, the chest wall, or a mediastinal mass were included in this study. Univariate and multivariate analyses of factors associated with the development of atrial fibrillation were analyzed.
RESULTS - There were 2588 patients who met the inclusion criteria. The overall incidence of atrial fibrillation was 12.3% (n = 319). Categories of disease were primary lung cancer, pulmonary metastasis, esophageal cancer, intrathoracic metastasis, benign lung disease, other mediastinal tumors, mesothelioma, chest wall tumors, benign esophagus, and "other." Patients with atrial fibrillation had increased mean lengths of hospital stay, mortality rates, and mean hospital charges. Univariate analysis evaluated age, sex, disease category, comorbidities, preoperative therapy, and procedure, and significant variables were entered into the multivariate analysis. Significant variables (relative risk; 95% confidence interval) in the multivariate analysis were male sex (1.72; 1.29-2.28), age 50 to 59 years (1.70; 1.01-2.88), age 60 to 69 years (4.49; 2.79-7.22), age 70 years or greater (5.30; 3.28-8.59), history of congestive heart failure (2.51; 1.06-6.24), history of arrhythmias (1.92; 1.22-3.02), history of peripheral vascular disease (1.65; 0.93-2.92), resection of mediastinal tumor or thymectomy (2.36; 0.95-5.88), lobectomy (3.89; 2.19-6.91), bilobectomy (7.16; 3.02-16.96), pneumonectomy (8.91; 4.59-17.28), esophagectomy (2.95; 1.55-5.62), and intraoperative transfusions (1.39; 0.98-1.98).
CONCLUSIONS - The significant variables identified by means of multivariate analysis were associated with the occurrence of atrial fibrillation. Preventive therapies in selected populations might reduce the incidence of atrial fibrillation.