Catheter Ablation of Atrioventricular Nodal Reentrant Tachycardia in Patients With Congenital Heart Disease

Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2022 Feb;15(2):e010631. doi: 10.1161/CIRCEP.121.010631. Epub 2022 Jan 28.


Atrioventricular (AV) nodal reentrant tachycardia represents the most common regular supraventricular arrhythmia in humans, and catheter ablation of the so called slow AV nodal pathway has been effectively performed for decades. In patients with congenital heart disease, a combination of different factors makes catheter ablation of AV nodal reentrant tachycardia substrate particularly challenging, including abnormal venous access to intracardiac structures, abnormal intracardiac anatomy, potentially deviant and often unpredictable sites of the specific conduction system, loss of traditional anatomic landmarks, and congenital cardiac surgery that may complicate the access to the AV nodal area. Published experiences have confirmed the efficacy and the relative safety of such procedures when performed by experts, but the risk of complications, in particular AV block, remains non-negligible. A thorough knowledge and understanding of anatomic and electrical specificities according to underlying phenotype are essential in addressing these complex cases. Considering the major consequences associated with AV block in patients with complex congenital heart disease, particularly those without low risk access for transvenous ventricular pacing (eg, single ventricle physiology or Eisenmenger syndrome), the individual risk-benefit ratio should be carefully evaluated. The decision to defer ablation may be the wisest approach in selected patients with either infrequent or hemodynamically tolerated arrhythmias, or when the location of the AV conduction pathways remains uncertain. This narrative review aims to synthetize existing literature on catheter ablation of AV nodal reentrant tachycardia in congenital heart disease, to present main features of common associated pathologies, and to discuss approaches to mapping and safely ablating the slow AV nodal pathway in challenging cases.

Keywords: arrhythmias, cardiac; catheter ablation; heart defects, congenital; tachycardia, atrioventricular nodal reentry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Atrioventricular Node / physiopathology
  • Atrioventricular Node / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation* / adverse effects
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Cryosurgery* / adverse effects
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Tachycardia, Atrioventricular Nodal Reentry / diagnosis
  • Tachycardia, Atrioventricular Nodal Reentry / etiology
  • Tachycardia, Atrioventricular Nodal Reentry / physiopathology
  • Tachycardia, Atrioventricular Nodal Reentry / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome