Single chamber cardiac pacers

Last revised by Pir Abdul Ahad Aziz Qureshi on 16 Jul 2021

Single chamber cardiac pacemakers are cardiac conduction devices with one lead terminating in (most commonly) the right ventricular apex or the right atrium. 


Includes one of the following:


Single chamber atrial pacemakers are uncommonly placed, as they require intact atrioventricular conduction and do not safeguard against its future deterioration. Indications include severely symptomatic sinus bradycardia and the sick sinus syndrome (with the tachycardia-bradycardia syndrome). Lead placement is typically in the right atrial appendage.

Single chamber ventricular pacemakers have also fallen out of favor, eclipsed largely by dual-chamber pacemakers which have leads in both the right atrium and right ventricle. Lead placement should be in the right ventricular apex. Indications for permanent single-chamber ventricular pacing include 3:

Temporary transvenous pacing commonly relies on single-chamber pacing, however, with the intended location of the lead tip in the right ventricular apex. Indications for temporary single-chamber ventricular pacing often referred to as "transvenous pacing" include 1:

  • bradycardia
    • when associated with myocardial infarction (MI)
    • not associated with MI
      • ventricular dysrhythmias
      • high grade or complete AV block
    • risk of post-procedural bradycardia
  • tachycardia (overdrive suppression)
    • supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
    • ventricular tachycardia (VT)

On ECG, atrial pacing will result in a sharp, vertical pacemaker spike followed by an ectopic P wave with a location-dependent morphology; when implanted in proximity to the sinoatrial (SA) node, it will appear upright (positive polarity) in the limb leads, with the exception of aVR.

Ventricular pacing from the right ventricular apex will result in an abnormal right-to-left depolarization of the ventricular myocardium, resulting in a left bundle branch-like morphology of the QRS complex. Depolarization will also occur from apex-to-base, resulting in an "extreme" frontal axis deviation (with negative QRS complexes in the inferior leads) 2.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: temporary transvenous pacemaker
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  • Case 2: temporary transvenous pacing wire
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