Amiodarone versus procainamide for the acute treatment of recurrent supraventricular tachycardia in pediatric patients

Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2010 Apr;3(2):134-40. doi: 10.1161/CIRCEP.109.901629. Epub 2010 Mar 1.


Background: Intravenous amiodarone and procainamide are both used as therapies for refractory supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). However, no studies have compared the efficacy and safety of these agents in pediatric patients.

Methods and results: All patients treated with intravenous amiodarone or procainamide during 25 consecutive months for the following mechanisms of SVT were included: orthodromic reciprocating tachycardia, intra-atrial reentrant tachycardia, and ectopic atrial tachycardia; junctional ectopic tachycardia was excluded. Treatment response was categorized as full success, partial success, or failure. Partial success was defined as clinical improvement and/or arrhythmia control but not meeting full success criteria. Adverse events were classified as major (requiring resuscitation) or minor (management changes). There were 40 episodes of SVT in 37 patients (median age, 34 days; 24 with congenital heart disease). Amiodarone was the initial therapy in 26 cases and procainamide in 14 cases. If partial and full success are combined, procainamide was successful in 71% of cases compared with 34% for amiodarone (P=0.046). If partial success is considered a treatment failure, procainamide was successful in 50% compared with 15% for amiodarone (P=0.029). Ten patients received the second medication after the first failed. Success was achieved in 5 of 8 amiodarone-to-procainamide crossovers compared with 1 of 2 procainamide-to-amiodarone crossovers. One major and 10 minor adverse events occurred in amiodarone patients versus 6 minor adverse events in procainamide patients (P=NS).

Conclusions: In this cohort, procainamide achieved greater success compared with amiodarone in the management of recurrent SVT without statistically significant differences in adverse event frequency.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Amiodarone / administration & dosage*
  • Amiodarone / adverse effects
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Procainamide / administration & dosage*
  • Procainamide / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / complications
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Procainamide
  • Amiodarone