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Anesth Analg. 1997 Jun;84(6):1180-5.

Rapid atrial pacing for detecting provokable demand ischemia in anesthetized patients.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


A stress test that can be performed intraoperatively might be valuable for cardiac risk stratification in patients needing urgent noncardiac surgery and for early evaluation of coronary reserve in patients undergoing aortocoronary bypass surgery. Therefore, we evaluated the sensitivity and safety of rapid atrial pacing combined with electrocardiography and transesophageal echocardiography for inducing and detecting provokable demand ischemia in 20 anesthetized patients with multivessel coronary artery disease. Rapid atrial pacing induced ST segment changes or new segmental wall motion abnormalities (SWMA), which were defined as evidence of induced ischemia in 15 of the 20 patients. Unexpectedly, the new SWMA normalized during the first beat after abrupt cessation of pacing in three patients who did not show any ST segment changes. Simultaneously, left ventricular preload was severely decreased during pacing and recovered to baseline immediately when pacing was abruptly discontinued. Rapid atrial pacing was safe in all patients, but the target heart rate could not be achieved because of heart block or arterial hypotension in 4 of the 20 patients. These findings raise the question of whether rapid atrial pacing is the most appropriate approach for inducing provokable demand ischemia in anesthetized patients. However, its potential usefulness for predicting adverse cardiac outcomes has not been evaluated and would require larger studies. In addition, the immediate normalization of new SWMA after abrupt cessation of pacing in some patients calls into question the validity of new SWMA as evidence of myocardial ischemia when left ventricular preload is severely decreased.

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