Transesophageal Cardioversion and Defibrillation

Atrial flutter termination by overdrive transesophageal pacing and the facilitating effect of oral propafenone.

Doni F, Della Bella P, Kheir A, Manfredi M, Piemonti C, Staffiere E, Rimondini A, Fiorentini C. Policlinico San Pietro, Bergamo, Italy. Am J Cardiol 1995 Dec 15;76(17):1243-6. Transesophageal overdrive atrial pacing is effective and safe for atrial flutter termination. The influence of antiarrhythmic drug therapy on this procedure is controversial. In this study, we investigated whether oral propafenone may facilitate this procedure. Thirty patients with type I atrial flutter were randomized into 2 groups in which transesophageal pacing was attempted: group A, without treatment; and group B, after oral administration of propafenone 600 mg. Transesophageal pacing was effective in interrupting atrial flutter in 53% of patients (8 of 15) in group A and in 87% of patients (13 of 15) in group B. A significant lengthening of the flutter cycle was observed with respect to the baseline in patients given propafenone (261 +/- 23 vs 217 +/- 25, p < 0.01). Sinus rhythm resumed at a shorter paced cycle in group A patients (166 +/- 13 vs 187 +/- 14 ms, p < 0.01). The transesophageal threshold for stable atrial capture was significantly lower in group A (20.5 +/- 0.2 vs 23.3 +/- 1.2, p < 0.01). In no patient was the threshold for atrial capture higher than the pain threshold. We did not observe abrupt enhancement of atrioventricular conduction. We conclude that propafenone is effective and safe when used with transesophageal pacing in the termination of atrial flutter. The slowing effect of the drug on intraatrial conduction and the possible stabilizing effect on the reentry circuit appear to be outweighed by the positive effect of propafenone on the excitable gap of the circuit, facilitating its capture and accounting for the beneficial effect of the drug on arrhythmia termination.

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