Systematic review of electrophysiology procedures in patients with obstruction of the inferior vena cava

J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2022 Jun;33(6):1300-1311. doi: 10.1111/jce.15505. Epub 2022 Apr 30.


Aims: The objective of the study was to conduct a systematic review to describe and compare the different approaches for performing cardiac electrophysiology (EP) procedures in patients with interrupted inferior vena cava (IVC) or equivalent entities causing IVC obstruction.

Methods: We conducted a structured search to identify manuscripts reporting EP procedures with interrupted IVC or IVC obstruction of any aetiology published up until August 2020. No restrictions were applied in the search strategy. We also included seven local cases that met inclusion criteria.

Results: The analysis included 142 patients (mean age 48.9 years; 48% female) undergoing 143 procedures. Obstruction of the IVC was not known before the index procedure in 54% of patients. Congenital interruption of IVC was the most frequent cause (80%); and, associated congenital heart disease (CHD) was observed in 43% of patients in this setting. The superior approach for ablation was the most frequently used strategy (52%), followed by inferior approach via the azygos or hemiazygos vein (24%), transhepatic approach (14%), and retroaortic approach (10%). Electroanatomical mapping (58%), use of long sheaths (41%), intracardiac echocardiography (19%), transesophageal echocardiography (15%) and remote controlled magnetic navigation (13%) were used as adjuncts to aid performance. Ablation was successful in 135 of 140 procedures in which outcomes were reported. Major complications were only reported in patients undergoing AF ablation, including two patients with pericardial effusion, one of whom required surgical repair, and another patient who died after inadvertent entry into an undiagnosed atrioesophageal fistula from a previous procedure.

Conclusion: The superior approach is most frequent approach for performing EP procedures in the setting of obstructed IVC. Transhepatic approach is a feasible alternative, and may provide a "familiar approach" for transseptal access when it is required. Adjunctive use of long sheaths, intravascular echocardiography, electro-anatomical mapping and remote magnetic navigation may be helpful, especially if there is associated complex CHD. With careful planning, EP procedures can usually be successfully performed with a low risk of complications.

Keywords: electrophysiology; inferior vena cava obstruction; interrupted inferior vena cava; superior approach; transhepatic approach.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Electrophysiology
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrophysiologic Techniques, Cardiac*
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vascular Malformations*
  • Vena Cava, Inferior* / abnormalities
  • Vena Cava, Inferior* / diagnostic imaging
  • Vena Cava, Inferior* / surgery