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Am J Otolaryngol. 2013 Jul-Aug;34(4):353-4. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2012.12.004. Epub 2013 Jan 14.

Computer-assisted paranasal sinus operation induces diving bradycardia.

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  • 1Research Group Experimental Surgery, University Hospital, Düsseldorf, Germany.


Unintentional mechanical manipulation anywhere in the distribution of the trigeminal nerve might activate a reflexive bradycardia. Neurosurgeons need to bear in mind detrimental consequences on cardiac function. A female patient (53 years) underwent a computer-assisted (CAS), paranasal sinus operation performed under general anesthesia. During left sided CAS and preparation of the sinus ethmoidalis, heart rate significantly fell from 68 to 32 /min, while systolic arterial blood pressure decreased from 105 to 75 mmHg. Continuation of the preparation again decreased heart rate progressing to transient asystole lasting for 15 s. After removal of the instruments, asystole terminated without medical support. As heart rate decreased after renewed insertion of the CAS probe, sinus ethmoidalis surgery was completed after atropine administration. During neurosurgical procedures, the incidence of the reflex varies between 10 and 18%. To the best of our knowledge, we report for the first time on a direct stimulation of the ethmoidal nerve with instruments (CAS probe) during paranasal surgery. Although normally cardioprotective, exaggeration of the diving reflex can be detrimental and has been implicated in cardiorespiratory disorders, including sudden death and the sudden infant death syndrome.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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