In patients known to be a high risk for sudden cardiac arrest, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) are a proven therapy to reduce risk of death. However, in patients without conventional indications for pacing, the optimal strategy for type of device, dual- versus single-chamber, remains debatable. The benefit of prophylactic pacing in this category of patients has never been documented. Although available atrial electrograms in a dual chamber system improve interpretation of stored arrhythmia events, allow monitoring of atrial fibrillation and may potentially reduce the risk of inappropriate shocks by enhancing automated arrhythmia discrimination, the use of dual-chamber ICDs has a number of disadvantages. The addition of an atrial lead adds complexity to implantation and extraction procedures, increases procedural cost and is associated with a higher risk of periprocedural complications. The single lead pacing system with ability to sense atrial signals via floating atrial electrodes (VDD) clinically became available in early 1980’s but did not gain much popularity due to inconsistent atrial sensing and a concern about the potential need for an atrial lead if sinus node fails. Most ICD patients do not have indications for pacing at implantation and subsequent risk of symptomatic bradycardia seems to be low. The concept of atrial sensing via floating electrodes has recently been revitalized in the Biotronik DX ICD system (Biotronik, SE & Co., Berlin, Germany) in hopes to provide all of the potential advantages of available atrial electrograms without the risks and incremental cost of an additional atrial lead. Compared to a traditional VDD pacing system, the DX ICD system uses an optimized (15 mm) atrial dipole spacing and improved atrial signal processing to offer more reliable atrial sensing. The initial experience with the DX system indicates that its arrhythmia discrimination capability is similar to the dual chamber system and that the clinically useful atrial signal amplitude remains stable over time. Future studies are needed to determine long-term reliability of atrial sensing and a subsequent need for atrial pacing in this patient population.
Credits: Nicole E Worden; Musab Alqasrawi; Siva M Krothapalli; Alexander Mazur