Perioperative risk of complete heart block in patients with bifascicular block and prolonged PR interval

F. L. Mikell, E. K. Weir, E. Chesler

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11 Scopus citations


Because there is a paucity of information on the perioperative risk of developing complete heart block among patients with bifascicular block (either right bundle branch block and left anterior hemiblock or left bundle branch block) and a long PR interval on the surface electrocardiogram, we undertook an analysis of 76 such patients. Twenty-three patients had right bundle branch block and left axis deviation with a long PR interval and 53 had left bundle branch block with a long PR interval. Thirty patients had 37 general anaesthetics, 23 had 32 spinal anaesthetics, and 50 had 64 local anaesthetics or endoscopic procedures. No patient developed complete heart block. Four patients developed sinus bradycardia during general anaesthetics, responsive to atropine or isoproterenol. Similarly, none of the 23 such patients in the literature reviewed had developed complete heart block. Because placement of temporary pacemakers is not without risk, we conclude that prophylactic pacing is not necessary in asymptomatic patients with bifascicular block even in the presence of a long PR interval. Since we did not study patients with recent syncope or myocardial infarction, caution should be exercised in applying these results to such patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-17
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes


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