Donor sinus node function was studied in 10 patients from day 4 to day 24 after cardiac transplantation. Cycle length, atrial arrhythmias, corrected sinus node recovery time, and estimated sinoatrial conduction time were recorded daily. Five patients had at least two sets of results suggesting sinus node dysfunction (group A) while five patients had no such abnormalities (group B). The prognosis in group A was poor, with four of the five patients dying within four months of the operation; one unexpected death from arrhythmias was recorded by ambulatory electrocardiographic monitoring. All five patients in group B survived for at least eight months. In nine patients sinus node function varied from day to day, with corrected sinus node recovery time reaching a peak at 11 to 18 days after operation. The longest corrected sinus node recovery time was 11 160 ms. Neither the differences between the patients, nor the day to day variation, could be explained solely by the degree of rejection as assessed by biopsy or by the ischaemia time of the heart during procurement. Sinus node dysfunction soon after transplantation is associated with a poorer prognosis and might be the terminal event in some cases.
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