Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implant testing based on the upper limit of vulnerability, or vulnerability testing, permits assessment of defibrillation safety margins without inducing ventricular fibrillation (VF) in most patients. Vulnerability testing requires that T-wave shocks be timed at the most vulnerable intervals of the cardiac cycle, defined as intervals at which the strongest shock induces VF. Our goal was to develop and test an automated method to select these timing intervals using ICD intracardiac electrograms (EGMs).Methods
At ICD implant in 22 patients, we determined the range of the most vulnerable intervals by scanning the T wave with shocks. Simultaneously, EGMs were recorded for 351 pacing sequences used for measurement of timing intervals or T-wave shocks. EGMs were analyzed off-line using a novel automated method to identify a stable point near the maximum slope of the T wave in the far-field (shock) EGM. Fiducial timing points based both on the EGM and on the electrocardiogram (ECG) were used to predict the most vulnerable intervals. We compared the predicted most vulnerable to the measured most vulnerable intervals determined by T-shock scans.Results
Automatically determined timing points from EGMs and operator-determined timing points from the surface ECG had comparable accuracy in identifying the measured most vulnerable intervals (91% EGM vs 86% ECG, P = NS)Conclusions
An automated method based on ICD EGMs identifies the most vulnerable intervals with accuracy comparable to the operator-performed, clinical method based on the surface ECG. This EGM method can be implemented efficiently in an ICD to automate vulnerability testing.