Atrial fibrillation with symptomatic bradycardia, higher grade atrioventricular block, and sinus node disease are all common indications for permanent pacemaker implantation. The most frequent causes of sinus node disease treated with pacemaker implantation involve degenerative structural changes of the sinus node; less often, extrinsic causes (such as damage due to myocardial infarction or heightened parasympathetic nervous system activity) lead to pacemaker implantation.
A 50-year-old patient with syncope and documented sinoatrial arrest was referred. Neurologic exams (including CT and EEG) revealed no pathologies, so a pacemaker was implanted. Postoperatively, syncope occurred again due to a focal seizure during which sinus rhythm transitioned to atrial pacing by the device. Further neurologic testing revealed focal epilepsy. Six months later, stage IV glioblastoma was diagnosed and the patient was treated surgically.
Intracerebral tumors should be considered in the differential diagnosis for patients with unexplained sinoatrial block, as well as in patients with repeat syncope after pacemaker implantation. Cranial MRI could aid the diagnostic workup of such cases.