Altered cardiac histology following apical right ventricular pacing in patients with congenital atrioventricular block

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1999 Sep;22(9):1372-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.1999.tb00631.x.


Previous studies have demonstrated that right ventricular apical pacing inherently alters ventricular contraction, regional blood flow, wall stress, and predisposes to diminished function. However, histological consequences of chronic apical pacing potentially contributing to the observed ventricular dysfunction remain conjectural. Previous canine studies have demonstrated histopathological cellular abnormalities with apically initiated ventricular pacing that may result in the observed diminished ventricular function. To determine if comparable adverse changes also occur in the clinical setting, 16 endomyocardial biopsies were obtained from 14 age-matched patients with congenital complete atrioventricular block (CCAVB) and otherwise normal anatomy, divided into two groups: eight biopsies (median patient age 15.5 years) from patients prior to pacemaker implant and another eight biopsies (median patient age 16 years) from patients following 3-12 years (median 5.5) of chronic ventricular pacing. In one patient, biopsy samples were obtained before and after pacing. Results demonstrated a significant (P<0.05) increase in histopathological alterations among the patient biopsy samples following pacing, consisting of myofiber size variation, fibrosis, fat deposition, sclerosis, and mitochondrial morphological changes. These findings indicate that chronic apical right heart ventricular pacing may adversely alter myocellular growth, especially among the young, on the cellular and subcellular level, potentially contributing to the diminished function observed clinically.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial / methods
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endocardium / ultrastructure
  • Heart Block / congenital
  • Heart Block / pathology
  • Heart Block / physiopathology
  • Heart Block / therapy*
  • Heart Ventricles
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria, Heart / ultrastructure
  • Myocardium / ultrastructure*
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / etiology