Sedation in cardiac arrhythmias management

Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2018 Mar;16(3):163-173. doi: 10.1080/14779072.2018.1429914. Epub 2018 Jan 21.


Procedural sedation is of paramount importance for a plethora of electrophysiological procedures. From electrical cardioversion to electrophysiology studies, device implantations, and catheter ablations, intraprocedural sedation and anesthesia have a pivotal role in allowing procedural success while ensuring patient safety and avoiding discomfort. Areas covered: The present review will discuss the current state-of-the-art in sedation and anesthesia during electrical cardioversion, cardiac implantable electronic device implantation, catheter ablation and electrophysiology studies. Specific information will be provided for each procedure in order to reach the core of this important clinical issue, and specific protocols will be compared. The main pro-arrhythmic and anti-arrhythmic effects of the most commonly used sedatives will also be discussed. Expert commentary: According to much recent evidence, the cardiologist can be the only person responsible for sedation administration in many settings, highlighting few safety issues associated with the absence of a dedicated anesthesiologist thus a concomitant reduction in costs. However, many concerns have been raised in allowing non-anesthesiologists to manage sedatives, as adverse events, while rare, could have catastrophic consequences. The present paper will highlight when a cardiologist-directed sedation is considered safe, how it should be performed, and the pros and cons related to this strategy.

Keywords: Anesthesia; atrial fibrillation; cardiac implantable electronic device; catheter ablation; electrical cardioversion; fentanyl; midazolam; propofol; sedation; ventricular tachycardia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics / administration & dosage*
  • Anesthetics / adverse effects
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy*
  • Cardiologists
  • Catheter Ablation / methods
  • Deep Sedation / methods*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable
  • Electric Countershock / methods
  • Electrophysiologic Techniques, Cardiac / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Male


  • Anesthetics
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives