Author(s): Hillock RJ, Mond HG
Transvenous pacing has revolutionized the management of patients with potentially life-threatening bradycardias and at its most basic level ensures rate support to maintain cardiac output. However, we have known for at least a decade that pacing from the right ventricle (RV) apex can induce left ventricle (LV) dysfunction, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and maybe an increased mortality. Although pacemaker manufacturers have developed successful pacing algorithms designed to minimize unnecessary ventricular pacing, it cannot be avoided in a substantial proportion of pacemaker-dependent patients. Just as there is undoubted evidence that RV apical pacing is injurious, there is emerging evidence that pacing from the RV septum is associated with a shorter duration of activation, improved haemodynamics, and less LV remodelling. The move from traditional RV apical pacing to RV septal pacing requires a change in mindset for many practitioners. The anatomical landmarks and electrocardiograph features of RV septal pacing are well described and easily recognized. While active fixation is required to place the lead on the septum, shaped stylets are now available to assist the implanter. In addition, concerns about the stability and longevity of steroid-eluting active fixation leads have proven to be unfounded. We therefore encourage all implanters to adopt RV septal pacing to minimize the potential of harm to their patients.