Time-course of heart rate variability after total hip arthroplasty

Mikkel Nicklas Frandsen*, Claus Varnum, Nicolai Bang Foss, Jesper Mehlsen, Henrik Kehlet

*Corresponding author for this work


Heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the autonomic nervous system function and possibly related to postoperative outcome. Despite several HRV studies in different surgical settings, optimal indices and timepoints for measuring have not been adequately determined. Consequently, there is a need for detailed descriptive procedure-specific studies on the time-course of perioperative HRV within a modern fast-track surgical setting. We measured HRV continuously in 24 patients from 4 days before until 9 days after total hip arthroplasty (THA). Statistical methods included mainly ANOVA and t-tests or Kruskal-Wallis and pairwise Wilcoxon test. Patients completed the Orthostatic Discriminant and Severity Scale five times during the study describing autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Standard deviation between normal-to-normal beats and the total power of HRV were reduced for at least 9 days following THA, with a trend towards increased HRV leading up to the day of surgery. The balance between low- and high-frequency power of HRV was reduced in the postoperative evenings. There was increased orthostatic intolerance symptoms on the first postoperative day, with symptoms of pain, fatigue and weakness decreasing after the first postoperative day. Median hospital stay was 1 day. We provide the first detailed description of perioperative time-course of HRV and orthostatic symptoms in fast-track THA, showing reduced HRV after surgery for at least a week, and that HRV changes are sensitive to time of day and timing before and after surgery. These results are helpful in designing future HRV studies in perioperative risk assessment and outcome.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Apr 2023


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