Catheter ablation for the treatment of electrical storm in patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators: short- and long-term outcomes in a prospective single-center study

Circulation. 2008 Jan 29;117(4):462-9. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.686534. Epub 2008 Jan 2.


Background: Electrical storm (ES) caused by recurrent episodes of ventricular tachycardia (VT) can cause sudden death in patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators and adversely affects prognosis in survivors. Catheter ablation has been proposed for treating ES, but its long-term effect in a large population has never been verified.

Methods and results: Ninety-five consecutive patients with coronary artery disease (72 patients), idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (10 patients), and arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/cardiomyopathy (13 patients) undergoing catheter ablation for drug-refractory ES were prospectively evaluated. Short-term efficacy was defined by a complete protocol of programmed electric stimulation and by in-hospital outcome; long-term analysis addressed ES recurrence, cardiac mortality, and VT recurrence. Pleomorphic/nontolerated VTs required electroanatomic and noncontact mapping in 48 and 22 patients, respectively, and percutaneous cardiopulmonary support in 10 patients. An epicardial approach was used in 10 patients. After 1 to 3 procedures, induction of any clinical VT(s) by programmed electrical stimulation was prevented in 85 patients (89%). ES was acutely suppressed in all patients; a minimum period of 7 days with stable rhythm was required before hospital discharge. At a median follow-up of 22 months (range, 1 to 43 months), 87 patients (92%) were free of ES and 63 patients (66%) were free of VT recurrence. Eight of 10 patients with persistent inducibility of clinical VT(s) had ES recurrence; 4 of them died suddenly despite appropriate implantable cardioverter-defibrillator intervention. All together, 11 of 95 patients (12%) died of cardiac-related reasons. In the group of patients presenting with all clinical VTs acutely abolished, no ES recurrence was documented, and cardiac mortality was significantly lower compared with the group of patients showing > or = 1 clinical VT still inducible after catheter ablation.

Conclusions: Advanced strategies of catheter ablation applied to a large population of patients are effective in the short-term treatment of ES. By preventing ES recurrence, catheter ablation may play a protective role over the long term and, together with long-term pharmacological therapy, may favorably affect cardiac mortality.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / adverse effects*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Salvage Therapy / methods
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / etiology
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / mortality
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / prevention & control
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome