Injury to the conduction system: management of life-threatening arrhythmias after penetrating cardiac trauma

Rashi Jhunjhunwala, Christopher J. Dente, William Brent Keeling, Phillip J. Prest, Stacy D. Dougherty, Rondi B. Gelbard, William B. Long, Jeffrey M. Nicholas, Bryan C. Morse*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Life-threatening conduction abnormalities after penetrating cardiac injuries (PCIs) are rare, and rapid identification and treatment of these arrhythmias are critical to survival. This study highlights diagnosis and management strategies for conduction abnormalities after PCI. Methods Patients with life-threatening arrhythmias after PCI were identified at an urban, level I trauma center registry. Results Seventy-one patients survived to reach the hospital after PCI. Of these, 3 (4%) survivors (male = 3, mean age 41.3, median injury severity score = 25) had critical conduction abnormalities after cardiorrhaphy. All patients had multichamber and atrioventricular nodal injury. After initial cardiorrhaphy and control of hemorrhage, all patients had sustained hypotension with bradycardia from complete heart block. Two patients had ventricular septal defects requiring repair. All 3 patients survived. Conclusions Rapid recognition of injury to the cardiac conduction system after PCI as a source of sustained hypotension is essential to early restoration of cardiac function and survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-353
Number of pages2
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Arrhythmia after penetrating cardiac injury
  • Complete heart block
  • Traumatic VSD
  • Traumatic arrhythmia
  • Ventricular septal injury


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