Introduction: Several reports have demonstrated that radiofrequency catheter ablation provides effective control of a variety of supraventricular tachycardias. However, the efficacy, complications, risk of arrhythmia recurrence, and follow-up survival analysis have not been reported in a large series of consecutive patients with supraventricular arrhythmias with diverse electrophysiologic mechanisms. This report details the results of radiofrequency catheter ablation in 760 consecutive patients (386 males, 374 females) with a wide variety of supraventricular tachycardias treated at one center.
Methods and results: Arrhythmias were associated with the presence of an accessory pathway in 363 patients (384 accessory pathways), including four patients with Mahaim fibers and eight patients with the permanent form of junctional reciprocating tachycardia. The mechanism of the clinical arrhythmia was AV nodal reentrant tachycardia in 245 patients, and a primary atrial tachycardia in 20 patients (ectopic atrial tachycardia in 16 patients and sinus nodal reentry in 4 patients). Ablation of the reentrant circuit of atrial flutter within the right atrium was attempted in 13 patients. AV node ablation and permanent pacemaker implantation were performed in 119 patients with medically refractory atrial fibrillation or flutter. Radiofrequency catheter ablation was successful in 346 of 363 patients (95.3%, CI 93.1%-97.5%) with accessory pathways (367 of 384 pathways, 95.6%, CI 93.5%-97.6%) with a complication rate of 1.1% and a recurrence rate of 5.5%. Successful accessory pathway ablation was achieved for 179 of the first 192 pathways treated (93.2%, CI 89.7%-96.6%) and increased to 188 of 192 pathways (97.9%, CI 95.9%-99.9%) over the second half of the series. AV nodal reentry was successfully abolished in 244 of 245 patients (99.6%, CI 98.8%-100%) by selective ablation of the slow pathway in 234 patients and the fast pathway in 10 patients. The complication rate in this group was 2.0% with a recurrence rate of 6.5%. All 20 primary atrial tachycardias were successfully ablated with no complications and a recurrence rate of 15%. The reentrant circuit of atrial flutter was ablated successfully in 10 of 13 patients (77%) with recurrent atrial flutter in one additional patient. Complete AV block was achieved in 117 of 119 (98.3%, CI 96.0%-100%) patients with atrial fibrillation or flutter treated by AV nodal ablation with a complication rate of 0.8% and recurrence of AV conduction in 6%. The median duration of fluoroscopy exposure for the population was 23.4 minutes. The overall primary success rate for the entire population was 97.0% (737 of 760 patients, CI 95.8%-98.2%).
Conclusion: Thus, the results of this large series of patients demonstrates the safety and efficacy of radiofrequency ablation for the treatment of a wide variety of supraventricular arrhythmias. It also appears that increasing experience with these procedures increases the rate of successful ablation and decreases the risk of complications.