Underdetection of ventricular tachycardia by algorithms to enhance specificity in a tiered-therapy cardioverter-defibrillator

Charles D. Swerdlow, Thomas Ahern, Peng Sheng Chen, Chun Hwang, Eli Gang, William Mandel, Robert M. Kass, C. Thomas Peter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

111 Scopus citations


Objectives. The goal of this study was to determine the incidence and clinical significance of underdetection in 125 patients treated with a tiered-therapy cardioverter-defibrillator, the Medtronic PCD. Background. Underdetection, distinct from undersensing, is a unique, potential complication of new algorithms that enhance specificity in tiered-therapy cardioverter-defibrillators. These algorithms may delay or prevent recognition of ventricular tachycardia even though electrograms are sensed accurately and RR intervals meet the programmed interval criterion. Methods. Underdetection was defined as delay in detection >5 s at electrophysiologic study or symptomatic delay or detection failure at follow-up of 15 ± 8 months. Results. We identified six specific mechanisms of underdetection caused by algorithms to discriminate sustained ventricular tachycardia from sinus tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, ventricular fibrillation and nonsustained ventricular tachycardia. Underdetection caused detection delays in 13 (1.9%) of 677 induced ventricular tachyarrhythmia episodes in 12 patients (9.6%). During follow-up, underdetection occurred in 7 (9.9%) of 71 ptients in whom ventricular tachycardia therapies were programmed. Failure to detect ventricular tachycardia occurred in 6 (0.6%) of 988 spontaneous ventricular tachycardia episodes in four ptients (5.6%); 2 episodes required external cardioversion. After difibrillator reprogramming, underdetection did not occur. Conclusions. Algorithms to enhance specificity cause underdetection of ventricular tachycardia in a significant minority of patients with tiered-therapy cardioverter-defibrillators. Optimal programming can minimize underdetection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-424
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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