Biventricular Pacing for Congestive Heart Failure: Early Experience in Surgical Epicardial versus Coronary Sinus Lead Placement


  • Hironori Izutani
  • Kara J. Quan
  • Lee A. Biblo
  • Inderjit S. Gill



Objective: Biventricular pacing (BVP) has recently been introduced for the treatment of refractory congestive heart failure. Coronary sinus lead placement for left ventricular pacing is technically difficult, has a risk of lead dislodgement, and has long procedure times. Surgical epicardial lead placement has the potential advantage of the visual selection of an optimal pacing site, does not need exposure to ionic radiation, and allows lead multiplicity, but it does require a thoracotomy and general anesthesia. We report our early experience of BVP with both modalities.

Methods: BVP was performed in 12 patients with New York Heart Association (NYHA) class IV congestive heart failure (10 men, 2 women). Mean patient age was 68.7 years (range, 41-83 years). Surgical epicardial leads were placed through a 2- to 3-inch incision via a left fourth or fifth intercostal thoracotomy in 4 patients with single lung ventilation under general anesthesia. The other 8 patients underwent transvenous coronary sinus lead placement under conscious sedation.

Results: Postoperative NYHA class status improved from class IV to class II in 8 patients and to class III in 3 patients. In 5 of the 8 patients who had undergone follow-up echocardiography with mitral regurgitation, the severity of the mitral regurgitation improved. The mean left ventricular ejection fractions before and after BVP were 18.3% ± 8.3% and 20.5% ± 8.0%, respectively (P = .16). Mean fluoroscopy and total procedure times for transvenous lead placement were 77 ± 19 minutes and 266 ± 117 minutes, respectively. The mean surgery time for epicardial lead placement was 122 ± 13 minutes. There were no differences between the 2 methods in pacing threshold or in lead dislodgement. There were no complications related to the surgery or the laboratory procedure.

Conclusion: In patients with NYHA class IV congestive heart failure, epicardial lead placement through a minithoracotomy for BVP was performed safely with benefits equivalent to those of coronary sinus lead placement and with a shorter procedure time.


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How to Cite

Izutani, H., Quan, K. J., Biblo, L. A., & Gill, I. S. (2005). Biventricular Pacing for Congestive Heart Failure: Early Experience in Surgical Epicardial versus Coronary Sinus Lead Placement. The Heart Surgery Forum, 6(1), E1-E6.