An update on electrical cardioversion of atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is the most frequently encountered sustained arrhythmia in clinical practice. Electrical cardioversion of atrial fibrillation using damped sine wave shocks has been a mainstay of therapy for nearly 4 decades; its limitation remains a failure rate that approaches 20%. Although several alternatives have been proposed, including delivering 720 J shocks using dual monophasic defibrillators, ibutilide pretreatment and internal cardioversion, each of these approaches has significant limitations, which preclude its routine use. Recent data demonstrate that routine use of biphasic shocks for cardioversion of atrial fibrillation is associated with a marked improvement in cardioversion efficacy and suggest that biphasic shocks may be the preferred method for the transthoracic electrical cardioversion of atrial fibrillation.