ObjectiveThe aim of this study was to determine the pertinent anesthetic considerations for patients undergoing surgical sympathectomy for electrical storm (incessant ventricular tachycardia (VT) refractory to traditional therapies).
DesignThis is a retrospective review of a prospective database.
SettingThis single-center study took place in a university hospital setting.
ParticipantsTwenty-six patients were enrolled.
InterventionsFifteen patients underwent left-sided sympathectomy, whereas 11 patients underwent bilateral sympathectomy.
Measurements and main resultsAnesthetic management of these patients was quite complex, requiring invasive monitoring, transesophageal echocardiography, one-lung ventilation, programming of cardiac rhythm management devices, and titration of vasoactive medications. Paired t test of hemodynamic data before, during, and after surgery showed no significant difference between preoperative and postoperative blood pressure values, regardless of whether the patient underwent unilateral or bilateral sympathectomy. Eight patients remained free of VT, three patients responded well to titration of oral medications, and one patient required 2 radiofrequency ablations after sympathectomy to control his VT. Three patients continued to have VT episodes, although reduced in frequency compared with before the procedure. Four patients were lost to followup. Overall, five patients within the cohort died within 30 days of the procedure. No patients developed any anesthetic complications or Horner's syndrome. The overall perioperative mortality (within the first 7 days of the procedure) was 2 of 26, or 7.7%.
ConclusionsThe anesthetic management of patients undergoing surgical sympathectomy for electrical storm can be quite complex, because these patients often present in a moribund and emergent state and cannot be optimized using current ACC/AHA guidelines. Expertise in invasive monitoring, transesophageal echocardiography, one-lung ventilation, cardiac rhythm device management, and pressor management is crucial for optimal anesthetic care.