Use of adenosine for diagnosis and treatment of tachyarrhythmias in pediatric patients

J Pediatr. 1994 Jan;124(1):139-43. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(94)70270-5.


This report reviews our experience with the use of adenosine for diagnosis and treatment of narrow QRS complex tachyarrhythmias in children. All electrocardiograms obtained since the introduction of adenosine for clinical use at one pediatric tertiary care institution during an 18-month period were reviewed, and those patients receiving adenosine were included for study. Of the 24 patients who received adenosine, the median age was 4 years; four neonates were included. Adenosine produced atrioventricular block in 21 (88%) of 24 patients. It terminated the tachyarrhythmia in 11 patients and produced atrioventricular block but did not terminate the tachyarrhythmia in 10 patients. The mechanism of the arrhythmia was known in three patients before adenosine administration. Adenosine was useful in establishing the mechanism of the tachyarrhythmia in 17 of the remaining 18 patients but was not useful in one patient, in whom the arrhythmia was successfully terminated because a good-quality electrocardiogram was not obtained during adenosine administration. Therefore the mechanism of the supraventricular tachycardia was ultimately determined for all patients in whom adenosine successfully produced atrioventricular block and had acceptable electrocardiographic tracings. Side effects were limited and transient. We conclude that adenosine was a safe and effective agent for the pharmacologic treatment of narrow QRS complex tachyarrhythmias in our patients, including those less than 1 year of age. If proper electrocardiographic recordings are performed during adenosine administration, it is also helpful in establishing the cause of the tachyarrhythmia.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / pharmacology
  • Adenosine / therapeutic use*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects
  • Heart Block / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / diagnosis
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / drug therapy*


  • Adenosine