OBJECTIVE: To study the potential interactions in patients with endocardial permanent pacemakers and non-thoracotomy implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) systems. DESIGN: Case series and cohort study. SETTING: Tertiary referral centre. PATIENTS: Fifteen consecutive patients with both endocardial pacemakers (12 dual chamber and three single chamber) and non-thoracotomy ICD systems. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Detection inhibition of induced ventricular fibrillation; double counting; and pacemaker function after shocks. In the evaluation of detection inhibition, 124 VF inductions were analysed for detection duration compared with induced VF episodes in controls with an ICD but without a pacemaker. RESULTS: Two patients (13%) showed detection inhibition of VF and required pacemaker system change at the time of the ICD implant. With the final lead position, despite frequent pacemaker undersensing of VF, ICD detection of VF was not inhibited during any induction, and neither initial detection nor redetection times for VF were different from controls. Double/triple counting of pacemaker artefact and evoked electrogram was noted in three patients (20%). In two, this was remedied during the implantation procedure, and in the other it was abolished when amiodarone treatment was discontinued. Pacemaker function was affected by ICD discharges in two patients, one who showed postshock atrial undersensing and loss of capture, and another whose pacemaker reverted to VVI mode. CONCLUSIONS: When careful testing is performed at implantation to detect and remedy device interactions, non-thoracotomy ICD treatment and endocardial pacemakers can be used safely in combination.
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