Lethal postoperative coronary artery spasm

Hugh S. Paterson*, Michael W. Jones, Douglas K. Baird, Clifford F. Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Coronary artery spasm in the immediate postoperative period after a coronary operation is recognized infrequently. Its severity is variable and manifestations unpredictable. The diagnosis is usually made by an awareness of the possibility and thereafter by exclusion of other causes of myocardial ischemia. An opportunity for a positive diagnosis is rarely available. Methods. The case reports of 3 patients with similar presentations of ischemic heart disease and with severe manifestations of coronary artery spasm in the postoperative period are presented. Results. All 3 patients were women aged 55 to 60 years. All had single-vessel coronary artery disease involving the left anterior descending artery and underwent a left internal mammary artery bypass graft. Severe manifestations of myocardial ischemia of abrupt onset developed approximately 7 hours postoperatively in each patient. One patient died of severe hemodynamic deterioration from which resuscitation was unsuccessful. Another sustained a large anterior myocardial infarction despite graft patency. The third patient was supported by an intraaortic balloon pump and made a full recovery. Conclusions. The early diagnosis of coronary artery spasm is achieved by an awareness of the condition. The institution of early appropriate management may prevent its consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1571-1573
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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