Transesophageal Atrial Pacing during Echocardiography Exams

Detection of coronary artery disease by digital stress echocardiography: comparison of exercise, transesophageal atrial pacing and dipyridamole echocardiography.

Marangelli V, Iliceto S, Piccinni G, De Martino G, Sorgente L, Rizzon P. Institute of Cardiology, University of Bari, Italy. J Am Coll Cardiol 1994 Jul;24(1):117-124. OBJECTIVES. This study assessed and compared the diagnostic potential of exercise, transesophageal atrial pacing and dipyridamole stress echocardiography in a clinical setting. BACKGROUND. Although they have been widely studied, no data exist with regard to comparisons of these procedures in a head-to-head study in different clinical settings. METHODS. One hundred four consecutive patients with suspected coronary artery disease undergoing coronary angiography and with no previous myocardial infarction or rest left ventricular wall motion abnormalities underwent digital posttreadmill, transesophageal atrial pacing and dipyridamole echocardiography. RESULTS. Feasibility of digital exercise echocardiography was 84%; 8 of 88 remaining patients had a nondiagnostic exercise echocardiographic test (inadequate exercise or imaging). In 80 patients with feasible and diagnostic digital exercise echocardiography, sensitivity, specificity and accuracy were, respectively, 89%, 91% and 90%. Eighty of the 104 patients underwent transesophageal atrial pacing and dipyridamole echocardiography. Feasibility of the alternative stress procedures was 77% for transesophageal atrial pacing and 96% for dipyridamole. In 60 patients successfully undergoing both alternative stress procedures, sensitivity and specificity were 83% and 76% for atrial pacing and 43% and 92% for dipyridamole echocardiography, respectively. In the group of 24 patients with nondiagnostic exercise echocardiography and consequent indication to alternative stress procedures, accuracy of transesophageal atrial pacing was higher than that of dipyridamole echocardiography (73% vs. 45%, p = 0.06). CONCLUSIONS. Because of its higher diagnostic potential and additional functional information, exercise is the stress of choice when stress echocardiography is used to detect the presence of coronary artery disease. Alternative stresses can be used in patients with nondiagnostic exercise echocardiography. Transesophageal and dipyridamole echocardiography differ in feasibility and diagnostic reliability (higher sensitivity of transesophageal atrial pacing, higher specificity of dipyridamole). These characteristics must be considered when selecting procedures to be used as alternatives to exercise.

From page 120 of article: "Side effects. After transesophageal atrial pacing, in no case was it necessary to administer drugs to obtain remission of the signs of ischemia induced by the test because they regressed a few seconds after stimulation. However, after dipyridamole echocardiography it was invariably necessary to administer aminophylline to stop cephalea or flushing, or both, induced by the drug. In 5 cases, it was also necessary to administer sublingual nitroglycerin and, in 2 cases, intravenous nitrates to stop agngina, ST depression or severe wall abnormalities induced by dipyridamole, which tended to persist for several minutes."

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