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Comparison and frequency of ventricular arrhythmias after defibrillator implantation by thoracotomy versus nonthoracotomy approaches

Kim, S G; Ling, J; Fisher, J D; Wang, G; Rameneni, A; Roth, J A; Ferrick, K J; Gross, J; Ben-Zur, U; Brodman, R
Postoperative exacerbation of ventricular arrhythmias has been reported in some patients treated with thoracotomy implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs). This phenomenon, which may be related to epicardial patch electrodes, may be less frequent after nonthoracotomy ICD implantation. In this nonrandomized study, postoperative arrhythmias in thoracotomy approaches (n = 52) were compared with those in nonthoracotomy approaches (n = 59). Preoperatively, all patients were clinically stable receiving an antiarrhythmic regimen chosen by serial drug testing. Nine of 52 patients in the thoracotomy group developed sustained ventricular tachycardia postoperatively while receiving the same antiarrhythmic regimen chosen preoperatively, and 1 patient eventually died. Two additional patients developed frequent and prolonged episodes of nonsustained ventricular tachycardia requiring changes in the antiarrhythmic regimen. In the nonthoracotomy group, only 3 of 59 patients developed sustained ventricular tachycardia and 1 developed frequent nonsustained ventricular tachycardia. Thus, only 4 of 59 patients in the nonthoracotomy group developed clinically significant ventricular arrhythmia during the postoperative period compared with 11 of 52 patients in the thoracotomy group (p < 0.05). Surgical mortality was 6% in the thoracotomy group, and 0% in the nonthoracotomy group. In the remaining clinically stable patients, a marked (sevenfold) increase in asymptomatic ventricular arrhythmias was noted in 15 of 39 patients in the thoracotomy group, and in 3 of 55 patients in the nonthoracotomy group (p < 0.05). Thus, postoperative exacerbation of ventricular arrhythmia, sometimes noted with thoracotomy approaches, is very rare with nonthoracotomy approaches.
PMID: 7977098
ISSN: 0002-9149
CID: 2023852