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Paradoxical QRS complex ­narrowing following transcatheter aortic valve implantation


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Paradoxical QRS complex narrowing following transcatheter aortic valve implantation

PERRIN, Nils, et al.

PERRIN, Nils, et al . Paradoxical QRS complex narrowing following transcatheter aortic valve implantation. Cardiovascular Medicine , 2017, vol. 20, no. 09, p. 213-215

DOI : 10.4414/cvm.2017.00513

Available at:


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Delay in the left-sided conduction system after TAVI masks right bundle-branch block

Paradoxical QRS complex

narrowing following transcatheter aortic valve implantation

Nils Perrin, Harran Burri, Angela Frei, Stéphane Noble

Cardiology Division of the University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland


Since the first procedure in 2002, transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) has evolved from an experi- mental procedure into a routine intervention with fewer complications and shorter hospital stay. How- ever, the occurrence of peri- or postinterventional con- duction disorders remains a concern, with a slightly higher occurrence in patients receiving self-expand- ing than balloon-expanding valves [1, 2]. New left bun- dle-branch block appears to be the most frequent con- duction disorder reported, with an incidence ranging from 7 to 65% in the literature [3, 4]. Moreover, identifi- cation of electrocardiogram (ECG) predictors of postin- terventional high-degree atrioventricular block (AVB) is still challenging, and postinterventional rhythm monitoring remains important. Here we present a case of paradoxical normalisation of QRS complex duration following TAVI suggesting nevertheless a high risk for subsequent complete AVB.

Case report

An 87-year-old man was admitted because of progres- sive disabling dyspnoea. Transthoracic echocardio- gram revealed severe aortic stenosis with a low pres-



sure gradient and decreased left ventricular function (aortic valve area: 0.8 cm2; transvalvular mean gradi- ent: 30 mm Hg; left ventricular ejection fraction: 42%, indexed cardiac output measured by means of cardiac catheterisation: 1.9 l/min/m2). The baseline ECG (fig. 1) showed atrial fibrillation and right bundle-branch block (RBBB) with QRS duration of 160 ms.

After evaluation by the heart team, in consideration of his age and frailty, left transfemoral TAVI was chosen as the appropriate treatment. At the beginning of the procedure, as is routine in our institution, a temporary trans jugular ventricular pacemaker lead was im- planted with use of a screw-in lead [5]. Thereafter, a 29-Evolut R (Medtronic Inc, MN, USA) bioprosthesis was successfully deployed under pacing at 100 bpm in an aortic annulus perimeter of 75 mm without predilata- tion. No valve repositioning was required as implanta- tion depth was considered optimal (3 mm depth at the noncoronary cusp) with only mild postprocedural para valvular leak.

Immediately after valve deployment, the patient devel- oped transient, self-limiting, complete AVB. Surpris- ingly, the acute care unit admission ECG (fig. 2) re- vealed atrial fibrillation with a narrow QRS (100 ms).

With respect to the new QRS morphology, the axis was deviated to the left from 95° (baseline) to –38° (postpro- cedural). In the context of atrial fibrillation, conduc- tion delay could not be reflected by PR interval prolon- gation. Thus, an electrophysiological study was performed, which showed slight prolongation of the His-ventricle interval (60 ms). In the context of RBBB at baseline, paradoxical narrowing of the QRS complex was presumably secondary to the development of additional delay in the left-sided conduction system following TAVI leading to similar conduction delay in both bundle branches. However, an ECG 4 hours later showed a return to complete RBBB (fig. 3).

Even though QRS duration remained stable during fol- low-up, without additional conduction disturbances, a permanent pacemaker was implanted at day 2 because


Peri- or postprocedural conduction disorders following transcatheter aortic valve implantation remain frequent, and identification of electrocardiogram predictors of postinterventional high-degree atrioventricular block is chal- lenging. Here we present a case of paradoxical normalisation of QRS com- plex duration following transcatheter aortic valve implantation, suggesting a high risk for subsequent complete atrioventricular block.

Key words: transcatheter aortic valve implantation; conduction disorders; left bundle branch block;

complete atrioventricular block; permanent pacemaker implantation

Peer reviewed alertic

Published under the copyright license “Attribution – Non-Commercial – NoDerivatives 4.0”. No commercial reuse without permission. See: http://emh.ch/en/services/permissions.html




Figure 2: Immediate postprocedural electrocardiogram showing atrial fibrillation with complete right bundle-branch block and narrow QRS complexes.

Figure 1: Baseline electrocardiogram showing atrial fibrillation with complete right bundle-branch block.

of, at least, bifascicular dysfunction and a consequent significant risk of delayed high-degree AVB. The temporary pacemaker was retrieved at the time of the permanent pacemaker implantation.

No other procedure-related complication was re-

ported. The pacemaker was programmed in a VVI mode with a baseline rate of 60 beats per minute.

Control at discharge and 30-day follow-up reported a non pacemaker-dependant rhythm with a ventricular pacing percentage of 63 and 45%, respectively.

Published under the copyright license “Attribution – Non-Commercial – NoDerivatives 4.0”. No commercial reuse without permission. See: http://emh.ch/en/services/permissions.html





In the context of the association between conduction disorders and negative outcomes, efforts were made to find predictors of conduction disorder. The height of prosthesis implantation was found to strongly predict the need of a permanent pacemaker [6]. Prior RBBB and prolonged PQ intervals have been identified as the main ECG predictors [7].

Our case, with a paradoxical transient QRS shortening, illustrates the difficulty of predicting high degree AVB when only the post-procedural ECG is considered. In a recent multicentre observational study, Toggweiler et al. suggested an algorithm for determining the need and duration of telemetry monitoring following TAVI [8]. According to their work, patients with a postproce- dural ECG showing normocardic atrial fibrillation or sinus rhythm without bundle-branch block or AVB do not require telemetry. In our case, if the baseline ECG were not considered, one could have been misled by the immediate postprocedural paradoxical narrowing of QRS complexes.

Combined with the initial baseline ECG analysis, an electrophysiological study remains useful in unclear cases with boderline conduction disorders, as it might show prolonged His-ventricle delays. Conservative management could have been a reasonable option, on the basis of the recovery of the left-sided conduction system, but because of the self-limited transient periprocedural complete AVB and persistant RBBB, complete AVB was deemed likely and the patient was referred for permanent pacemaker implantation.


The case presented here highlights the importance of an initial close monitoring following TAVI to detect new conduction disorders and identify patients at high risk of complete AVB.

Disclosure statement

No financial support and no other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


The full list of references is included in the online version of the article at www.cardiovascmed.ch.


Nils Perrin, MD, Division of Cardiology, University Hospital of Geneva, 4, Rue Gabrielle Perret-Gentil CH-1211 Geneva 14 nils.perrin[at]hcuge.ch

Figure 3: 4-hour postprocedural electrocardiogram showing relapsing complete right bundle-branch block.

Published under the copyright license “Attribution – Non-Commercial – NoDerivatives 4.0”. No commercial reuse without permission. See: http://emh.ch/en/services/permissions.html


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