Twelve patients were paced with a transvenous J-shaped bipolar electrode positioned in the right atrial appendage. All had chronic sinoatrial dysfunction and 5 had paroxysmal atrial arrhythmia: 2 had recent myocardial infarction, 1 angina decubitus, and 1 ventricular pre-excitation. Atrioventricular sequential pacing was employed in this last patient and this mode of pacing was substituted for atrial pacing in one other. The remaining 10 patients were paced from the atrium only. Electrode displacement occurred in 2 patients and 2 others had a rise in pacing threshold. After repositioning the electrode or substituting a more powerful pacemaker, sustained atrial capture was achieved in 3 of these 4. Sensing of spontaneous P waves was present constantly in 4 and variably in 3 of 9 patients. Symptomatic improvement was obtained in 10 patients. A bipolar pacemaker with a variable output voltage and a relatively high demand sensitivity is optimal for atrial pacing. Measurements of intra-atrial voltage with various electrode configurations in 7 patients suggest that atrial sensing may more often be achieved when the reference electrode is situated in the upper part of the right atrium than when it is close to the electrode tip in the atrial appendage.
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