Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of radiofrequency catheter ablation of common atrial flutter and to determine the optimal target sites in a large series of patients.
Background: Recent studies report the efficacy of radiofrequency current application in the low right atrial region to interrupt and prevent recurrences of common atrial flutter. However, larger groups of patients are required to confirm the efficacy of this technique and to specify the target sites.
Methods: Two different approaches were used to target the ablation site in 80 consecutive patients. In the first 50 patients, target sites were localized using both anatomic landmarks and electrophysiologic variables. Three anatomic landmarks were used: area 1 = between the tricuspid valve and inferior vena cava orifice; area 2 = between the tricuspid valve and coronary sinus ostium; area 3 = between the inferior vena cava and coronary sinus. The electrophysiologic criterion was to ablate when there was a stable atrial electrogram during the plateau phase. In the next 30 patients we assessed the effect of application of radiofrequency energy in a single line in area 1, 2 or 3 in groups of 10 patients.
Results: Overall atrial flutter was interrupted and rendered noninducible after a single session in 72 patients (90%) and could not be interrupted in 8 (10%). The mean (+/- SD) number of radiofrequency applications was 12 +/- 8. After a mean (+/- SD) follow-up of 20 +/- 8 months, recurrences occurred in 14 patients (17%). The location of the final successful site in the first group of 50 patients was in area 1 in 39%, area 2 in 36% and area 3 in 25%. In the next 30 patients, when lines of radiofrequency lesions were placed at several sites, they produced success rates of 70%, 40% and 10% at areas 1, 2 and 3, respectively.
Conclusions: Radiofrequency catheter ablation of atrial flutter can be performed with a high success rate and is safe. The highest success rate is achieved with radiofrequency energy applied in the isthmus between the inferior vena cava orifice and tricuspid valve.