Background: Post-operative junctional ectopic tachycardia is a transient, but potentially life threatening, rapid automatic tachyarrhythmia that requires urgent and adequate treatment. In our study, we review retrospectively the use and efficacy of amiodarone for this arrhythmia over an 8-year period in our institution.
Methods and patients: Retrospective review revealed 15 patients who were administered amiodarone for postoperative junctional ectopic tachycardia during the period. The median age was 2.6 months, with a range from 8 days to 8.1 months. The median weight was 4.6 kilograms, with a range from 2.6 to 8.2 kilograms.
Results: The median heart rate at diagnosis of the tachycardia was 192 beats per minute, and the range was 182 to 229 beats per minute. The biochemistry was essentially normal. The median length of time until the tachycardia was controlled was 4.5 hours, and the range was from 1 to 19.5 hours, with 13 of the 15 patients controlled within 12 hours. The median dose of amiodarone received by this time was 5.9 milligrams per kilogram, with a range from 1.0 to 25.0 milligrams per kilogram. Hypotension or bradycardia within 4 hours of commencing amiodarone were noted in 2 patients.
Conclusion: Experience in our institution, and a review of the literature, suggests that the most rapid control of post-operative junctional ectopic tachycardia will be obtained by a bolus of amiodarone followed by an intravenous infusion. Intravenous amiodarone is generally safe, with few side effects. Reported life threatening arrhythmias, however, suggest that intravenous amiodarone should be restricted to a setting where invasive monitoring and external cardiac pacing are available.