Objective: To summarize the practical operation of temporary pacemakers in common use pertinent to the intensivist caring for the postcardiac patient. Pacemaker therapy is commonly required in the postoperative period after congenital cardiac surgery.
Data Synthesis: Monitoring the hemodynamic status and availability of equipment for resuscitation is always important in any patient requiring a temporary pacemaker. Two important scenarios to consider in the pediatric intensive care unit are: 1) the patient in whom pacing has been initiated to optimize cardiac function; and 2) the patient without demonstrable spontaneous electrical activity or with extreme bradycardia. A number of different models of temporary pacemaker are available. Management of the child requiring cardiac pacing requires an understanding of the indications for pacing, a thorough knowledge of the available pacemaker, and an ability to troubleshoot problems.
Conclusions: As the most common arrhythmias post congenital cardiac surgery involve either rate or conduction abnormalities, temporary pacemaker systems are a common form of electrical therapy in the postoperative period.