Role of transesophageal pacing in evaluation of palpitations in children and adolescents

Giacomo Pongiglione, J. Philip Saul, Ann Dunnigan, Janette F. Strasburger, D. Woodrow Benson

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Transesophageal atrial pacing was used to evaluate the cause of palpitations in 28 patients ages 3 to 18 years (mean 11). Palpitations were defined as the sustained (seconds to minutes) sensation of rapid heart beating. Each patient had had >2 episodes of palpitations. No patient had other evidence of heart disease. Standard electrocardiogram was normal (23 of 28 patients), demonstrated ventricular preexcitation (3 of 28 patients) or demonstrated short PR interval (2 of 28 patients). In selected patients, ambulatory monitoring (11 patients) or exercise testing (3 patients) was performed but failed to demonstrate a cause of palpitations. In an effort to initiate tachycardia, a similar transesophageal atrial pacing protocol was performed in each patient. The protocol consisted of: (1) single extrastimuli at progressively closer intervals during sinus rhythm and after an 8-beat pacing train at ≥1 cycle lengths and (2) incremental atrial pacing to the point of second-degree atrioventricular block. If this pacing regimen failed to initiate tachycardia, it was repeated during isoproterenol infusion (0.02, 0.05 and 0.1 μg/kg/min) and then following intravenous atropine (0.04 mg/kg) administration. During the study, tachycardia was initiated in 20 of 28 patients (71%) (14 of 15 patients >10 years, 6 of 13 patients ≤10 years; p <0.01, Fisher's exact test). Electrophysiologic characteristics of induced tachycardia suggested reentry within the atrioventricular node (8 of 20 patients) or orthodromic reciprocating tachycardia (12 of 20 patients). In 3 of 12 patients with orthodromic reciprocating tachycardia, a transition to atrial fibrillation was observed. In 8 patients without inducible tachycardia, undocumented symptoms continued in 3, symptoms ceased in 4 and ventricular tachycardia was subsequently documented in 1 patient. Transesophageal atrial pacing is useful for investigation of palpitations in young patients without other manifestations of heart disease, especially in patients >10 years of age since electrocardiogram documentation of tachycardia is obtained in most patients studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-570
Number of pages5
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 15 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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