Introduction: The role of programmed ventricular stimulation (VSTIM) for risk stratification in congenital heart disease is unclear. We analyzed the results of VSTIM in selected congenital heart disease survivors at a single center to determine whether it improved the ability to predict a serious outcome.
Methods and results: Between July 1985 and September 1996, 140 primary VSTIM studies were performed on 130 patients (median age 18.1 years, range 0 to 51). Tetralogy of Fallot (33 %), d-transposition of the great arteries (25 %), and left ventricular outflow tract obstruction (12%) accounted for the majority of patients. Indications included spontaneous ventricular tachycardia (VT) of > or = 3 beats (72%) and/or symptoms (68%). Sustained VT was induced in 25% of the studies, and nonsustained VT in 12%. Atrial flutter or other supraventricular tachycardia was documented in 32% and bradyarrhythmias in 26%. By univariate analysis, mortality was increased in patients with positive VSTIM versus negative VSTIM (18% vs 7%, P = 0.04). Using multivariate analysis, positive VSTIM was associated with a sixfold increased risk of decreased survival and a threefold increased risk of serious arrhythmic events, allowing up to 87% sensitivity in predicting mortality. However, 7 (33%) of 21 patients with documented clinical VT had false-negative studies.
Conclusion: VSTIM in a large, selected group of congenital heart disease patients identified a subgroup with significantly increased mortality and sudden arrhythmic events. Failure to induce VT was a favorable prognostic sign, but the frequency of false-negative studies was high. Frequent supraventricular tachycardia further complicated risk stratification. Although VSTIM appears to be a reasonable tool for evaluation of this population, a larger, multicenter trial is recommended to clarify its utility.