Steroid-eluting epicardial pacing electrodes: Six year experience of pacing thresholds in a growing pediatric population

Nancy Goldman Cutler, Peter P. Karpawich, Dianne Cavitt, Mehdi Hakimi, Henry L. Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Indications for pacemaker implantation in the pediatric population often include sinus or atrioventricular node dysfunction following surgery for congenital heart defects. However, patient size, cardiac defects, and vascular and valvular concerns may limit transvenous lead utilization. Since the epicardial surface of these patients often exhibits variable degrees of fibrosis from scar tissue formation or pericardial adhesions, chronic low output (2.5/1.6 V, 0.3 ms) epicardial pacing from implant is not currently recommended in children due to frequent threshold changes and electrode exit block. As a result, pacing in children is often viewed as a less efficient system than in adults. The addition of steroid combined with newer low threshold electrode designs however stabilizes the electrode-tissue interface and eliminates postimplant changes seen with standard smooth surface electrodes potentially permitting efficient chronic pacemaker application to all patient ages. The stability of chronic low output epicardial pacing with steroid-eluting electrodes was prospectively studied in 22 patients (ages 2 days-18.5 years, median 3.5 years) for up to 6 years. Chronic pulse width thresholds were compared according to implant site and association of prior cardiac surgery. A total of 26 pacing leads were implanted. The acute implant mean pulse width threshold (2.5 V) for all the electrodes studied was 0.10 ms ± 0.05 ms. Stable low thresholds were maintained for up to 6 years without significant variation from implant. Mean ventricular pulse width thresholds (0.12 ms ± 0.05 ms) were significantly higher (P < 0.001) than atrial thresholds (0.06 ms ± 0.03 ms) at implant and throughout the study period. The thresholds in the patients following cardiac surgery were comparable to those without previous cardiac surgery (P = NS). Stable low thresholds may be chronically maintatined for up to 6 years for epicardial steroid-eluting electrodes irrespective of pacing site or associated cardiac surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2943-2948
Number of pages6
JournalPacing and Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number12 I
StatePublished - Dec 1997


  • Electrode
  • Pacemaker
  • Pediatric
  • Steroid


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