Introduction: Continuity of radiofrequency (RF) lesions for a catheter-based cure of atrial fibrillation is essential in order to avoid reentrant tachycardias. In the present study, we assessed the value of intracardiac echocardiography and preablation electrode-tissue interface parameters for creation of left atrial linear lesions.
Methods and results: In six healthy dogs, two left atrial linear lesions (lesion 1, along the inferior posterior left atrium; lesion 2, from the appendage to the left atrial roof) were attempted via a transseptal approach using a deflectable catheter with six 7-mm coil electrodes. In a randomized fashion, one lesion was performed under echocardiographic guidance and one with blinded echocardiographic monitoring. The following preablation parameters were assessed for every coil electrode: (1) mean atrial electrogram amplitude of six consecutive sinus beats; (2) diastolic pacing threshold; and (3) temperature response to application of 5 W for 10 seconds. After ablation (target temperature 70 degrees C, maximum power 50 W, duration 60 sec), the excised left atrium was examined macroscopically and histologically for lesion length, continuity, and presence or absence of lesions associated with each coil. Out of 12 attempted RF lesions, 7 were continuous (length, 47+/-5 mm, lesion 2, n = 6) and 5 were discontinuous (lesion 1, n = 5). Fifty-two of 70 coil electrodes (74%) had pathologic evidence of lesion creation. Intracardiac echocardiography was superior to fluoroscopy with respect to the actual number of coil electrodes creating lesions, and lesion continuity was correctly predicted in 9 of 12 lesions. Intracardiac echocardiography was 85% sensitive and 54% specific in predicting lesions created by individual coils. The correlation between the mean 60-second ablation temperature and the preablation parameters was 0.45 for the electrogram amplitude, -0.67 for the pacing threshold, and 0.81 for the temperature response to low-power application. Sensitivity and specificity for prediction of lesions created by individual coils, respectively, were 84% and 48% for the electrogram amplitude, 90% and 68% for the pacing threshold, and 96% and 76% for the low-power RF application.
Conclusion: Long linear lesions can be safely and effectively performed in the canine left atrium, using a tip-deflectable multielectrode catheter. Intracardiac echocardiography may be helpful for positioning the ablation catheter in some parts of the left atrium, and preablation parameters, especially a nontraumatic low-power RF application, are able to predict ultimate lesion creation with high accuracy.