Esophagectomy surgery carries a risk for atrial fibrillation, a common irregular heart rhythm. If atrial fibrillation is detected, various treatment methods may be used to control it, including several different medications and therapies (The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, March 2004: 127(3); 779-786). However, atrial fibrillation can often be prevented by using a beta blocker medication before surgery. Beta blocker medications block adrenaline, slowing the heart rate so that atrial fibrillation is less likely to occur.
A retrospective study showed that in patients undergoing esophagectomy for cancer, postoperative atrial fibrillation is associated with significantly higher rates of surgical site leakage, lung complications, infections, and mortality when compared with those who remain in a normal heart rhythm (The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, October 2003: 126(4); 1162-7). Preventing even one complication can reduce the risk of further complications in many cases.