Transesophageal Cardioversion and Defibrillation

The induction of atrial flutter and fibrillation and the termination of atrial flutter by esophageal pacing.

Kerr CR; Gallagher JJ; Smith WM; Sterba R; German LD; Cook L; Kasell JH Pacing Clin Electrophysiol (United States), Jan 1983, 6(1 Pt 1) p60-72. In patients with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW), it is important to assess the ventricular response during atrial flutter or fibrillation since conduction across the accessory pathway during these atrial rhythms may cause hemodynamic impairment or life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. We have recently reported the effective use of an esophageal electrode in pacing the atrium. In this study we prospectively assessed the ability to induce atrial flutter and fibrillation by esophageal pacing in 23 patients with WPW or other electrophysiological abnormalities. An esophageal bipolar electrode with 29 mm interelectrode distance was positioned in the esophagus to record the most rapid and largest esophageal electrogram (mean distance of 36.6 +/- 2.9 cm (SD) from the nares). Pacing was performed at cycle lengths of 40-340 ms (mean 166 +/- 72), pulse durations of 7.0-9.9 ms, and currents of 10-25 mA. Atrial flutter alone was induced in 6 patients, fibrillation alone in 11 patients, and both arrhythmias in 5 patients. In one patient neither flutter nor fibrillation was induced by esophageal pacing, and fibrillation was induced only with difficulty using intracavitary pacing. Of the 11 patients with flutter, the arrhythmia was terminated in 8 by esophageal pacing at cycle lengths of 160-220 ms (mean 176 +/- 18 ms). All patients tolerated the procedure well with only mild to moderate discomfort. Therefore, esophageal pacing appears to offer an effective, well tolerated method of initiating atrial fibrillation and flutter and terminating atrial flutter and offers a potentially useful noninvasive method of following patients serially.

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