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Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1999 May 21;111(10):406-9.

Local anaesthesia versus general anaesthesia for cardioverter-defibrillator implantation.

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Department of Cardiology, University of Vienna, Austria.



Cardioverter-defibrillators are conventionally implanted under general anaesthesia. However, implantation under conscious sedation is being increasingly used. It has been shown that cardioverter-defibrillators can be implanted in a more pacemaker-like approach: under local anaesthesia for the surgical procedure, and with mild sedation for defibrillation threshold testing only. The aim of the present study was to compare local and general anaesthesia in defibrillation threshold testing and implantation of cardioverter-defibrillators.


Forty patients were assigned to two groups: in the first 20 consecutive patients the cardioverter-defibrillator was implanted under general anaesthesia (GA), and in the subsequent 20 patients under local anaesthesia (LA). There was no significant difference between the two groups in regard of age, body weight, underlying disease, left ventricular ejection fraction, and NYHA classification. The defibrillation threshold was 13.7 +/- 5.5 J under local anaesthesia versus 10.7 +/- 4.7 J under general anaesthesia (n.s.). For defibrillation threshold testing 7.9 +/- 3.6 shocks had to be applied in patients under general anaesthesia versus 6.2 +/- 1.3 shocks under local anaesthesia (n.s.). Mean heart rate, arterial oxygen saturation and mean arterial blood pressure remained stable throughout defibrillation threshold testing, irrespective of the type of anaesthesia used. The duration of the surgical procedure was 62 +/- 16 min under GA and 60 +/- 14 min under LA (n.s.), however, the entire implantation procedure was significantly longer in patients under general anaesthesia than in those under local anaesthesia (124 +/- 24 min and 97 +/- 22 min, respectively, p < 0.005). There were no complications in either group and the procedure was well tolerated. With the use of local anaesthesia the cost of anaesthesia were reduced by 72%.


Local anaesthesia in combination with mild sedation is as safe and well tolerated as general anaesthesia in cardioverter-defibrillator implantation. Lidocaine used for local anaesthesia does not adversely affect the defibrillation threshold. Device implantation in a pacemaker-like approach results in a significant reduction in total procedure time and costs, and facilitates scheduling of the procedure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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