Background. Right radical neck dissection has been shown to prolong the QT interval, reportedly caused by surgical trauma to the cervical autonomic system, which may result in malignant ventricular arrhythmias. Carotid artery resection would be expected to be more likely to cause dangerous arrhythmias. Methods. We prospectively studied eight patients with electrocardiograms before and after carotid resection. Four patients had left‐sided procedures and four patients had right‐sided procedures. In addition, 11 patients were studied retrospectively. QT intervals were normal in all patients preoperatively. Results. Preoperative corrected QT intervals (QTc) were in the normal range used by our institution for all eight patients in the prospective group. There were no significant QTc changes after either left‐sided or right‐sided carotid resection. However, the retrospective group did show significant changes in QTc following right carotid resection (n = 5), but not left resection (n = 6). Conclusions. EKG changes associated with carotid resection may not be uniform and may depend on surgical technique or specific anatomic factors. Controlled prospective studies are needed to confirm the prevalence of QT interval changes in radical neck surgery.
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