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Brazilian Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery

Print version ISSN 0102-7638


ASSAD, Renato S et al. Fetal heart block: a new experimental model to assess fetal pacing. Rev Bras Cir Cardiovasc [online]. 1994, vol.9, n.3, pp.133-140. ISSN 0102-7638.

Epicardial fetal pacing via thoracotomy has the potential for being a safer and more reliable procedure to treat congenital complete heart block (CHB) associated with fetal hydrops refractory to medical therapy. To assess the acute electrophysiologic characteristics of two ventricular epicardial leads, a new experimental model of fetal heart block induced by cryosurgical ablation of the AV node without the need for fetal cardiac bypass was performed in 12 pregnant ewes at 110-115 days of gestation. A modified screw-in lead (one and a half turn) was used in 6 fetal lambs and a stitch-on lead in the other 6 lambs. CHB was achieved in 100% of the fetal lambs, with no ventricular escape rate noticed in any of the lambs. The acute stimulation thresholds were consistently low for both the leads, with lower values for the screw-in lead at pulse duration below 0.9 ms (p < 0.03). Current measured at voltage threshold with pulse width below 0.5 ms was lower for the screw-in lead (p < 0.048). Stimulation resistance, measured during constant-voltage pacing, was not statistically different between the two leads (441.8 ± 13.7 Ω for the screw-in lead versus 480.2 ± 59.2 Ω for the stitch-on lead). No significant differences (p > 0.20) were found in R-wave amplitude between the two electrodes. Slew rates were significantly higher with the screw-in group than with the stitch-on group (1.40 ± 0.2 versus 0.62 ± 0.2 V/s, p=0.04). This model of CHB is a simple and reproducible method to assess fetal pacing. We find the screw-in electrode a better option when fetal pacing is indicated.

Keywords : fetal cardiology; fetal heart block; fetal surgery; fetal arrhythmias; fetal pacing.

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