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Improvised Transvenous Cardiac Pacing during Operation Enduring Freedom


  • Conflicts of interest: None.

  • Source of funding: None.

Address for reprints: Tristan Handler, M.D., PSC 41, Box 2458 APO, AE 09464. Fax: (+44) 1638529224; e-mail:,


We report a case of combat cardiology at a military medical facility in Afghanistan. The patient had a high-degree heart block following inferior ST-elevation myocardial infarction requiring cardiac pacing. Transcutaneous pacing failed, leading to asystolic arrest during critical care air transport. An available transvenous pacing wire was soldered to leads from transcutaneous pacing pads allowing effective in-flight cardiac pacing until definitive therapy was available. This case demonstrates use of available resources under austere conditions, has the potential to inform physicians in similar circumstance, and addresses an area of need at military medical facilities. (PACE 2011;1–2)