Transesophageal Electrophysiology

Supraventricular paroxysmal reentry tachycardia. Empirical and guided therapy.

Piccolo E, Bonso A, Raviele A, Delise P. Divisione di Cardiologia, Ospedale Umberto I, Mestre-Venezia. Cardiologia 1991 Aug;36(8 Suppl):87-97. The empirical therapy of reentrant supraventricular tachycardias (A-V and junctional tachycardia) is based on a preliminary diagnosis through standard ECG to evaluate, whenever possible, the relationship between P wave and QRS. In order to distinguish atrial tachycardias from other types, we must employ vagal manoeuvres or drugs. Often we use methods of recording and stimulation such as Holter monitoring and transesophageal technique which can provide useful information about the electrophysiological mechanisms and therefore can better guide our choice of drugs. The decision of undertaking pharmacologic treatment takes into account frequency, duration and tolerability of the crises and the patient's compliance. The most commonly used drugs are verapamil, diltiazem, propafenone, flecainide, sotalol and amiodarone. The percentage of success at 1 year ranges from 30 to 60%. Particularly in the Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) therapy must follow an accurate evaluation of the electrophysiological pattern through effort test, drugs test, transesophageal (ETS) or endocavitary (EPS) electrophysiological study. Indeed therapy aims not only at reducing arrhythmic relapses, but also preventing the potential risk of either death or severe damage. The useful drugs must have the property of acting at the same time upon at least one branch of the A-V circuit, on the atrium reducing its vulnerability and finally modifying the conductive anterograde capacity of the Kent bundle. They are quinidine, procainamide, propafenone (group I) sotalol and amiodarone (group III). The limitations of the empirical therapy are a high percentage of relapses and the difficulty in foreseeing the pro-arrhythmic effects. The guided by serial electrophysiologic testing implies artificial induction of spontaneous arrhythmia by repeating the test after acute or chronic assumption of drugs. Is this way it can be evaluated the efficacy as well as the tolerability of an antiarrhythmic drug which later will be taken for chronic prophylaxis. The percentage of inducibility of clinical arrhythmias is next to 100% both for EPS and TES. The number of patients for whom we can find an effective pharmacologic regimen through acute testing ranges from 30 to 100%, but is influenced by several factors such as aggressiveness of therapeutic protocol and type and dosage of drugs. The predictive value is high as it approaches 100% for a positive acute test. The elective indications for serial electrophysiologic study are: failure of empirical therapy; disabling and very frequent arrhythmias; arrhythmias provoking major disturbances (lipothymia, syncope, hypotension, shock); symptomatic WPW.

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