Abstract Objective: To evaluate the acute and chronic performance of steroid-eluting (SE) epicardial (EPI) pacing leads as compared to SE transvenous (TV) pacing leads in children. Methods: From 1989 through 1997, 55 children with congenital heart disease received a total of 85 SE pacing leads, of which 38 were EPI and 47 TV. The mean age of children receiving EPI leads was younger than those receiving TV leads (7.7 months vs 15.1 years, p = 0.001), and they had shorter follow-up (17.2 months vs 36.2 months, p < 0.001). All leads were evaluated for acute and chronic sensing and capture thresholds, and impedance. Results: Acute and in particular chronic atrial and ventricular sensing and capture thresholds in SE EPI and TV leads were essentially equivalent.

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The chronic impedance of TV leads (atrial 525 ohms, ventricular 520 ohms) was consistently higher than EPI leads (atrial 404 ohms, ventricular 386 ohms). Conclusion: At intermediate follow-up, SE EPI leads are functionally equivalent to SE TV leads. We recommend the use of SE EPI leads as long as practically feasible prior to using the TV approach in children who will require a life-time of pacing.