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Cardiology Research and Practice
Volume 2011, Article ID 983937, 3 pages
Review Article

Esophageal Electrical Cardioversion of Atrial Fibrillation: When Esophagus Gives a Help to Cardiologists

Division of Cardiology, Internal Medicine Department, University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” 00133 Roma, Italy

Received 20 April 2011; Revised 8 June 2011; Accepted 19 July 2011

Academic Editor: Brian Olshansky

Copyright © 2011 Luca Santini et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Atrial fibrillation is a common clinical disease especially in the elderly and in patients with organic heart disease. Electrical cardioversion is the first choice therapeutic approach for patients in which sinus rhythm could improve the quality of life and where the maintenance of sinus rhythm is considered likely. There are different techniques to perform an electrical cardioversion, each with specific indications, advantages, and limitations. The method most frequently used to restore sinus rhythm is external direct current cardioversion; however, this technique has some disadvantages, since it requires a high energy and usually general anesthesia. Esophageal cardioversion is an alternative method to obtain restoration of sinus rhythm, warranting acute and long-term results absolutely comparable with those obtained by the conventional transthoracic technique, especially in obese and COPD patients with high thoracic impedance for whom the standard technique may be less effective.