Ethanol infusion in the vein of Marshall facilitates mitral isthmus ablation

Heart Rhythm. 2012 Aug;9(8):1207-15. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2012.03.008. Epub 2012 Mar 7.


Background: Treatment of perimitral flutter (PMF) requires bidirectional mitral isthmus (MI) block, which can be difficult with radiofrequency ablation (RFA). The vein of Marshall (VOM) is located within the MI.

Objective: To test whether VOM ethanol infusion could help achieve MI block.

Methods: Perimitral conduction was studied in patients undergoing ablation of atrial fibrillation. Group 1 included 50 patients with a previous atrial fibrillation ablation undergoing repeat ablation, 30 of whom had had MI ablation. Spontaneous (8 of 50) or inducible PMF (21 of 50) was confirmed by activation mapping. Group 2 included 21 patients undergoing de novo VOM ethanol infusion. The VOM was cannulated with a quadripolar catheter for pacing and with an angioplasty balloon to deliver up to four 1-mL infusions of 98% ethanol. Voltage maps were created before and after VOM ethanol infusion. Bidirectional MI block was verified by differential pacing. RFA times required to achieve it were assessed.

Results: In group 1, VOM ethanol infusion acutely terminated PMF in 5 of 29 patients. RFA needed to achieve bidirectional MI block was 2.2 ± 1.6 minutes. Presence of PMF or previous MI ablation did not affect RFA times. In group 2, RFA needed to achieve bidirectional MI block was 2.0 ± 1.6 minutes (P = NS). Five patients had bidirectional MI block achieved solely by VOM ethanol infusion without RFA. In both groups, ablation after VOM ethanol infusion was required in the annular aspect of the MI. There were no acute complications.

Conclusion: VOM ethanol infusion is useful in the treatment of PMF and assists in reliably achieving bidirectional MI block.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / surgery
  • Atrial Flutter / surgery
  • Catheter Ablation / adverse effects
  • Electrophysiologic Techniques, Cardiac
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Heart Atria / anatomy & histology*
  • Heart Conduction System / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitral Valve / surgery*
  • Myocardium
  • Pacemaker, Artificial
  • Pulmonary Veins / surgery
  • Sclerosing Solutions / administration & dosage*


  • Sclerosing Solutions
  • Ethanol