Effect of pulse width on transesophageal atrial pacing in dogs

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To determine the impact of stimulus pulse width (PW) on pacing threshold (PT), zone of capture (ZOC) and extraneous muscular stimulation (EMS).

Study design

Experimental trial in client-owned dogs.


Seventeen dogs, median weight 16.1 kg (interquartile range: 11.4–21.5).


Transesophageal atrial pacing (TAP) involved a 6 Fr pacing catheter inserted trans-orally into the esophagus to a position aboral to the heart in anesthetized dogs. The catheter was slowly withdrawn until atrial pacing was noted on an electrocardiogram. The catheter was withdrawn in 1 cm increments until TAP could not be achieved. PTs were recorded at each pacing site using PWs of 10.0, 5.0, 2.0 and 1.8 ms, always in that order.


The overall lowest mean PTs for all dogs were 6 ± 3 mA, 9 ± 4 mA, 11 ± 5 mA and 13 ± 5 mA at PWs of 10.0, 5.0, 2.0 and 1.8 ms, respectively. A significant decrease in overall minimum PT was noted using a PW of 10.0 ms compared with either 2.0 or 1.8 ms (p = 0.043 and p = 0.001, respectively) and pacing using 5.0 ms compared with 1.8 ms (p = 0.028). A significant increase in ZOC was noted using a PW of 10.0 ms compared with PWs of 5.0, 2.0 and 1.8 ms (p = 0.0047, p = 0.0006 and p = 0.0003, respectively), using a PW of 5.0 ms compared with PWs of 2.0 and 1.8 ms (p = 0.0011 and p = 0.0003, respectively) and using a PW of 2.0 compared with one of 1.8 ms (p = 0.0084).

Conclusions and clinical relevance

Use of 10.0 or 5.0 ms PW to perform TAP minimized the power required to pace the atria, while a PW of 10.0 ms maximized the size of the ZOC.

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