Impact of arrhythmia circuit cryoablation during Fontan conversion for refractory atrial tachycardia

Am J Cardiol. 1999 Feb 15;83(4):563-8. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(98)00914-x.


Refractory atrial arrhythmias in late postoperative Fontan patients are usually associated with residual hemodynamic abnormalities and result in significant morbidity and mortality. Surgical revision of the Fontan anastomosis may improve hemodynamics without eliminating tachycardia. This study sought to assess the impact of surgical cryoablation of the arrhythmia circuit at the time of Fontan conversion on the clinical recurrence of tachycardia. Sixteen consecutive atriopulmonary Fontan patients with refractory atrial arrhythmias underwent surgical conversion to lateral tunnel total cavopulmonary anastomosis (15) or Fontan revision (1 patient). The initial 4 patients underwent Fontan conversions alone, without specific arrhythmia surgery. The subsequent 12 patients underwent electrophysiologically guided cryoablation of the tachycardia circuits at the time of surgical conversion. The mean age at Fontan revision was 15.6 +/- 3.8 years. Cryoablation was directed to 3 identified major tachycardia circuits: the inferomedial right atrium, the superior rim of the prior atrial septal defect patch, and along the lateral right atrial wall. Transmural antitachycardia pacemakers were implanted in 11 of the 16 patients. There was no surgical mortality in either group, and all patients improved in functional classification. All patients not undergoing cryoablation experienced recurrent symptomatic tachycardia requiring antiarrhythmic therapy (median follow-up, 54 months) versus 2 of 12 patients receiving cryoablation (median follow-up, 25 months; p <0.02). Thus, surgical cryoablation of the arrhythmia circuit at the time of Fontan conversion is highly effective in the management of refractory atrial arrhythmias, and is superior to Fontan conversion alone.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cryosurgery*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Fontan Procedure*
  • Heart Conduction System / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Tachycardia / surgery*