Transesophageal Cardioversion and Defibrillation

Cardioversion of persistent atrial flutter in non-anticoagulated patients at low risk for thromboembolism.

Bertaglia E, D'Este D, Franceschi M, Pascotto P. Department of Cardiology, Civil Hospital, Mirano, Italy. Ital Heart J 1(5):349-53, 2000. BACKGROUND: The true risk of thromboembolic events after cardioversion of atrial flutter was not addressed carefully. Nevertheless, thromboembolic events were thought to be rare and less likely to occur after cardioversion of atrial fibrillation. The aim of this study was to prospectively evaluate if the interruption of persistent typical atrial flutter could be safely performed without anticoagulation in a group of patients at low risk for thromboembolic events. METHODS: We studied 64 subjects selected among 138 consecutive patients with persistent typical atrial flutter (minimal duration 72 hours) in whom a transesophageal atrial pacing was performed in our electrophysiology laboratory from October 1994 to May 1999. Exclusion criteria included: anticoagulation therapy during the previous 4 weeks; previous history of atrial fibrillation; recent ( 6 hours) atrial fibrillation during transesophageal atrial pacing. Patients in whom atrial flutter persisted in spite of transesophageal atrial pacing underwent external direct current cardioversion or right atrial overdrive pacing within 24 hours. Thromboembolic events were checked for 4 weeks after the restoration of sinus rhythm. RESULTS: Sinus rhythm was restored in 54 patients by transesophageal atrial pacing, in 8 patients by electrical cardioversion, and in 2 by right atrial pacing. The mean duration of atrial flutter was 18 +/- 19 days, the mean left atrial size 41.3 +/- 6.2 mm, and the mean left ventricular ejection fraction 54.8 +/- 7.3%. During the study period no episodes of thromboembolism were recorded. CONCLUSIONS: Cardioversion of persistent typical atrial flutter in non-anticoagulated patients at low risk for thromboembolic events appears safe.

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