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J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 1996 Mar;7(3):197-202.

Management of ventricular fibrillation with transvenous defibrillators without baseline electrophysiologic testing or antiarrhythmic drugs.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-6422, USA.



Baseline electrophysiologic study (EPS) is routinely performed in patients resuscitated from ventricular fibrillation (VF) to risk stratify and select patients for chronic antiarrhythmic drug therapy. The role of EP testing prior to insertion of a multiprogrammable implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), however, is unclear.


This study was a retrospective review of outcome in 66 survivors of an initial episode of out-of-hospital VF not associated with a Q wave myocardial infarction or reversible causes, treated with transvenous ICDs as first-line therapy. Patients were excluded from the study if they had a previous history of monomorphic ventricular tachycardia (VT), a clinical history suggestive of supraventricular tachycardia, or had undergone preoperative EP testing. Fifty-two of the patients (79%) were male with an average age of 58 +/- 11 years. Coronary artery disease was present in 43 patients (66%), cardiomyopathy in 15 patients (23%), and valvular heart disease in 1 patient (1.5%). Seven patients (11%) had no detectable structural heart disease. The mean left ventricular ejection fraction was 0.40 +/- 0.16. With an average follow-up of 25 +/- 12 months, survival free of death from any cause was 100%. Twenty-three patients (35%) experienced 48 episodes of recurrent rapid VT or VF (average cycle length: 236 +/- 47 msec) treated by their device. The mean time to first therapy was 223 +/- 200 days. Only one of these patients also received antitachycardia pacing for two episodes of VT. One patient (1.5%) temporarily received amiodarone after removal of an infected device that was subsequently replaced. No other patient received antiarrhythmic drug therapy.


After a cardiac arrest due to primary VF, select patients treated with multiprogrammable ICDs can be managed successfully without baseline EPS or antiarrhythmic drug therapy.

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