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Original research article
Moderate sedation in cardiac electrophysiology laboratory: a retrospective safety analysis


Objective Cardiac electrophysiology (EP) procedures can be performed under moderate sedation without the direct involvement of an anaesthetist. However, concerns have been raised over the safety of this approach. This study examines the use of a standardised nurse-led physician-directed sedation protocol for EP procedures to determine the safety of moderate sedation administered by non-anaesthesia personnel who have been trained in sedation techniques.

Methods and results Consecutive EP procedures done under moderate sedation over 12 years at our institution were evaluated. Serious adverse events were defined as (i) procedural death related to sedation; (ii) intubation and ventilation; and (iii) hypotension requiring inotropic support. Reversal of sedation constituted a minor adverse event. Up to 7117 procedures were included. These comprised ablations (55%), devices (43%) and other procedures (2%). A majority of patients were men with a mean age of 61±10 years. 99.98% of procedures were completed successfully without sedation-related serious adverse events. Two patients (0.02%) required anaesthetic support for intubation. Sedation was reversed in 1.2% of procedures with less than 1% requiring reversal because of persistent drop in oxygen saturation, hypoventilation or markedly reduced level of consciousness. There was no significant difference in the patient characteristics, mean doses of sedative agents and procedure types in the group requiring reversal of sedation when compared with the whole cohort.

Conclusions Our study demonstrates that nurse-led, physician-directed moderate sedation is safe. Anaesthesia services are not required routinely for invasive cardiac EP procedures and should be available on a need basis.

  • nurse-led moderate sedation
  • cardiac electrophysiology procedures
  • adverse events

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