Next we evaluated the interatrial and interatrioventricular
Next, we evaluated the interatrial and interatrioventricular synchrony because a long contraction time between the right and left atria was observed during the SSA procedure, dissection of the atrial septum, and patch closure. We were primarily concerned with determining whether the timing of the left atrium and left ventricle contractions was appropriate. The pacemaker was programmed in the DDDR mode at a rate of 70 to 120ppm, and with an AV delay of 155ms (nominal AV delay interval). Bradycardia due to the ectopic atrial rhythm was the basic cardiac rhythm observed when the pacing was stopped transiently, and was sustained for at least 1 week. Because of the conduction and contraction delay between the left and right atria, this almost nominal setting or shorter AV delay settings resulted in atrial pacing/ventricular pacing (ApVp) and simultaneous contractions of the left atrium and the left ventricle (Fig. 3b). To address this problem, the pacing mode was set to the AAI mode. Under this setting, the mitral valve inflow pulse Doppler measured by the echocardiogram showed no truncated A wave, which was seen in the setting with an AV delay of 50–155ms. These results indicated that the sequential contractions of the left atrium and the left ventricle were favorable under prolonged AV delay (Fig. 3b). When either the long AV delay setting or the safe RR mode was set to ON, the atrial pacing rate was 98% and the ventricular pacing rate was 0%. These settings also showed favorable left atrium-left ventricle sequential contraction (Fig. 3b). No problems were observed in the safe RR mode during the 1-year follow-up period. A schematic summary of cardiac conductions under ectopic atrial rhythm or atrial pacing of this patient was shown in Fig. 4.
Discussion Arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation and incisional flutter after cardiac surgery for congenital heart defect or benign tumor are very common . Sinus nodal dysfunction, which requires permanent pacemaker implantation, also commonly occurred with the original Maze procedure . However, the recently modified Maze procedure significantly reduced the need for pacemaker implantation (6%) [8,9]. This improvement was the result of the decreased number of resected leukotriene supplying the sinus node . In addition, only 5% of patients who underwent other surgical procedures that involved incision on the atrial septum or free wall-like closure of an atrial septal defect required pacemaker implantation . Moreover, sinus nodal dysfunction and AV nodal dysfunction after cardiac surgery for benign tumor resection were also rare even with the conventional surgical method (5%) [11,12]. The SSA allows excellent exposure of the left atrium; however, this approach requires the surgeon to sever the sinus nodal artery, which induces bradycardia. Because the sinus node is supplied by many arteries, interrupting the blood supply to the sinus nodal artery during the SSA leads to minimal serious sinus node dysfunction in the long-term (incidence of 0–1.5%), compared with conventional surgical methods [13–16]. In this case, the wide resection of the atrial septum in addition to the SSA might have severed most of the donor arteries supplying the sinus node, causing severe ischemia around the sinus node and the development of severe sinus node dysfunction. Although rare, similar cases have been reported [4,5]. With the use of the SSA, severe sinus nodal dysfunction should be considered a possibility in cases of large septal resection. Intracardiac mapping with pacemaker leads revealed that the lateral wall of the right atrium was the only position for the atrial pacing lead with allowable pacing and sensing thresholds. Most areas of the right atrium showed either very high pacing thresholds or low amplitudes of P waves under an ectopic atrial rhythm. This case showed not only sinus arrest but also an ectopic rhythm originating from the left atrium. Under the ectopic rhythm originating from the left atrium, broad P waves were recorded in a 12-lead ECG (Fig. 3a). Moreover, a very large conduction delay from the onset of the ectopic P waves was recorded in the atrium by the atrial lead on the lateral wall (Fig. 3a). This atrial conduction delay produced simultaneous sensing across the atrial and ventricular leads (Fig. 2a), which led to confusion in deciding the exact position of the pacemaker leads. Performing SSA and large septal resection also severed interatrial preferential pathways, including the Backman bundle and those around the fossa ovalis. As a result, the only major intra-atrial preferential pathway remaining in this case was the interatrial muscular bridge surrounding the CS. This might be the cause of the conduction delay observed between the left and right atria.