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Ventricular Pacing Threshold Variations in the Young


Address for reprints: Dr. Massimo S. Silvetti, Dipartimento Medico-chirurgico di Cardiologia, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, Piazza S. Onofrio 4, 00165 Roma, Italy. Fax: +390668592257; e-mail:


Ventricular Capture Management™ (VCM) is a Medtronic Kappa pacemakers (PM) feature that automatically measures pacing threshold through detection of the evoked response after a pacing stimulus. The aim of this study was to evaluate the range of variation of ventricular pacing threshold in pediatric patients with endocardial and epicardial pacing leads. Thirty-one patients (median age 6.5 years) were implanted with a Kappa 901 PM for atrioventricular block or sinus node dysfunction. Congenital heart defects (CHD) were present in 58% of patients. Ventricular leads were epicardial in 52% of patients. VCM was programmed to automatically measure threshold every 2 hours. In a median follow-up of 12 months, 27,110 threshold measurements, 72% of which were successful, have been taken in 94% of patients. Measurement success was 99% in the endocardial leads group (age at implantation 12 ± 6 years) and 31% in epicardial leads (age 4 ± 5 years) (P < 0.05). Main reasons for unsuccessful measurements were high heart rate and, in a patient with an endocardial lead, competition with intrinsic rhythm. Undersensing or oversensing of the evoked responses was not detected. In all successful VCM measurements, epicardial pacing and CHD contributed to stability of thresholds (multivariate analysis). Pacing threshold showed specific circadian patterns: higher thresholds were found between 00.00 and 06.00 a.m., but the variation was low, 0.03 ± 0.01 V. In conclusion, children and young patients show stable ventricular thresholds, especially in presence of CHD, and epicardial leads are at least as stable as endocardial leads. Ventricular pacing threshold showed a circadian variability similar to that described in adults, that does not seem to influence VCM functioning and PM programming.