Importance: Defibrillation testing (DFT) is performed during implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) implantation to assess the capacity of the device to detect and terminate ventricular arrhythmias. However, DFT can result in complications and omission of its use has been shown to be safe.
Objective: To describe temporal trends and variation in the use of DFT in contemporary practice in the United States.
Design, setting, and participants: This multicenter cross-sectional study used data from the National Cardiovascular Data Registry ICD Registry. A total of 499 211 patients from 1794 different facilities undergoing first-time ICD implantation from April 2010 to December 2015 were included. Data analysis was performed from May 20, 2015, to August 15, 2019.
Exposure: Defibrillation testing was assessed using the National Cardiovascular Data Registry ICD Registry.
Main outcomes and measures: Defibrillation testing rates and median odds ratios (MORs) were assessed over time. The MOR represents the odds that a randomly selected patient receiving testing at a hospital with high testing rates would be tested compared with if he or she had received care at a hospital with low testing rates.
Results: Of the 499 211 patients from 1794 different facilities included in this analysis, the mean (SD) age of the population was 65.5 (13.4) years and 356 681 patients (71.4%) were men. The use of DFT declined from 71.6% in the first calendar quarter of 2010 to 36.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015 (P < .001). Patients undergoing DFT were more likely than those without testing to have ischemic heart disease (170 569 [58.1%] vs 116 295 [56.6%]), ventricular tachycardia (91 500 [31.2%] vs 58 949 [28.7%]), and less advanced heart failure (New York Heart Association class I and II, 153 188 [52.2%] vs 91 215 [44.4%]) (P < .001 for all). The MOR for the use of defibrillation testing was 3.78 (95% CI, 3.54-4.03) in 2010, increasing to 6.05 (95% CI, 5.61-6.52) in 2015, indicating that by 2015 a randomly selected patient receiving testing at a hospital with high testing rates would have a 6-fold higher odds of being tested than if they had received care at a hospital with low testing rates.
Conclusions and relevance: Defibrillation testing at the time of ICD placement in the United States may have declined over time; however, institutional variation in its use appears to be marked and increased. This variability in the reduced use of defibrillation testing could reflect differences in individual or institutional cultures of practice.