Cited 5 times since 1997 (0.2 per year) source: EuropePMC Circulation, Volume 96, Issue 3, 01 August 1997, Pages 1025-1030 Hemodynamic effects of chronic prenatal ventricular pacing for the treatment of complete atrioventricular block. Liddicoat JR, Klein JR, Reddy VM, Klautz RJ, Teitel DF, Hanley FL


Increasing the heart rate of the fetus with cardiac failure caused by complete AV block (CAVB) may allow delivery of a full-term, stable neonate with preserved ventricular function. Direct fetal pacing may be a feasible method to achieve this, but the effect of pacing on the structure and function of the rapidly developing fetal heart is unknown.

Methods and results

CAVB was created in fetal lambs at 80% gestation by cryoablating the AV node. Epicardial ventricular pacing at 130 bpm was achieved by use of a pacemaker placed under the pectoral muscles. The fetus was returned to the uterus and allowed to continue to term. Ventricular function was assessed 1 week after birth in 7 lambs with CAVB and 10 control lambs. By use of the conductance catheter technique, the end-systolic pressure-volume relationship was determined at different heart rates, pacing conditions, and inotropic states. The contractility was not different between the two groups at their baseline heart rates and rhythms or when they were paced synchronously compared with asynchronously. Also, both groups responded significantly and similarly to inotropic manipulation, indicating preserved contractile reserve. Finally, in both groups, increased heart rates were associated with increased contractility, indicating an intact force-frequency relationship.


We conclude that chronic epicardial ventricular pacing is well tolerated by the fetus, can be successfully applied as a treatment for CAVB, and does not adversely affect myocardial function in the rapidly developing, immature heart.

Circulation. 1997 Aug;96(3):1025-1030