Transesophageal Cardioversion and Defibrillation

Transesophageal atrial pacing using a pill electrode for the termination of atrial flutter.

Falk RH, Werner M. Chest 1987;92(1):110-4. To determine the efficacy of transesophageal rapid atrial pacing with a "pill-electrode" for the termination of atrial flutter, we studied 14 consecutive unselected patients presenting with atrial flutter of various etiologies. The bipolar pill-electrode (interelectrode distance 13 mm) was introduced orally without sedation. Of 14 pacing attempts, atrial capture was obtained in 13 (93 percent), and sustained alteration in rhythm (atrial fibrillation, sinus rhythm or type 2 flutter) in 12 (86 percent). Normal sinus rhythm occurred in six (43 percent), in all of whom it was preceded by transient atrial fibrillation. There was no difference in baseline flutter rates, pacing rates for atrial capture, or duration of flutter between patients reverting to sinus rhythm and those remaining in flutter or converting to atrial fibrillation. Pacing was well tolerated in all but one subject. Thus, esophageal pacing with the pill-electrode was simple to perform, well-tolerated and highly successful for atrial capture in patients with atrial flutter. Although it had a lower success rate than DC cardioversion in producing sinus rhythm, the simplicity of application makes it a useful initial alternative, particularly in patients in whom cardioversion may be hazardous.

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