Atrioventricular (AV) node vagal stimulation by transvenous permanent lead implantation to modulate AV node function: safety and feasibility in humans

Stefano Bianchi, Pietro Rossi, Alberto Della Scala, Lilian Kornet, Raffaele Pulvirenti, Giancarlo Monari, Paolo Di Renzi, Patrick Schauerte, Paolo Azzolini

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Background: Atrioventricular (AV) node vagal stimulation (AVNVS) has recently emerged as a novel approach to controlling AV dromotropic function. Animal studies have demonstrated that selective epicardial AVNVS is effective in controlling ventricular rate (VR) acutely and in the long term. Endocardial AVNVS has been shown to significantly reduce VR acutely during atrial fibrillation (AF) in humans. However, no data are available on its long-term reproducibility. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to demonstrate that the posteroseptal right atrium is a suitable site for permanent pacing and allows AVNVS in humans both acutely and during follow-up. Methods: In 12 candidates for implantable cardioverter-defibrillator with a history of AF, the atrial lead was implanted in the posteroseptal right atrium, where advanced AV block was achieved during temporary high-frequency stimulation (HFS). On implantation and 3-month follow-up examination, HFS was delivered through the permanent lead to demonstrate the possibility to gradually slow the VR until complete AV block. Results: On implantation, VR during AF was gradually slowed until complete AV block, which was elicited at 4.3 V (0.2 ms, 50 Hz). After 3 months, this effect remained reproducible. No significant change in pacing thresholds was observed after 3 months. We observed one dislodgment and one microdislodgement of atrial leads. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates, for the first time in humans, that selective placement of the atrial lead yields electrical characteristics suitable for permanent pacing and enables VR to be significantly reduced under HFS. These results, which were reproducible during follow-up, provide data for the development of device-based control of VR during AF. © 2009 Heart Rhythm Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1282 - 1286
Number of pages5
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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