Various ablation methods have been proposed in the last few years in order to find a radical solution for atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia. The first techniques were surgical, followed by modulation of the fast pathway, causing a prolongation of the P-R interval, the latter involving a 2 to 10% atrioventricular block risk. To reduce this risk, slow pathway ablation was then suggested, with the objective of abolishing atrioventricular reentry. The aim of our study was to evaluate how frequently the recording of peculiar slow potentials was possible in patients with atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia, and to assess short-and long-term efficacy of an ablation technique involving the use of these potentials as electrophysiologic markers.
One hundred and eighty-eight patients with typical atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia were studied (mean age 47 +/- 18 years). Radiofrequency ablation was guided by peculiar slow potential recordings; when this was not possible, fast pathway ablation, or slow pathway ablation guided only by anatomic markers, were performed.
Potentials with peculiar electrophysiologic characteristics were found during sinus rhythm in the median posterior region of the septum, anteriorly to the coronary-sinus ostium, in 92% of patients. These characteristics included: low amplitude; the fact that they occupy the first part of the interval between the atrial and ventricular electrogram; their amplitude diminishes and disappears with increased frequency of atrial stimulation and/or with atrial extrastimulus. Typical atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia was no longer inducible in any patient at the end of the procedure with a median of 2 radiofrequencies application per patient. No II or III degree atrioventricular block was caused when ablation was guided by slow potential recordings. During an attempt at fast pathway ablation a complete atrioventricular block was caused in 1 patient. One hundred and eighty-four patients remained asymptomatic during a follow-up of 2 to 24 months; no one showed either a modification of atrioventricular conduction if compared to that found at hospital discharge or proarrhythmic effects. Four patients had one atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia recurrence and a second successful ablation was performed in 2 of these 4 patients.
Peculiar slow potentials, that can be used as electrophysiologic markers for slow pathway ablation, were recorded in the medio-posterior region of the septum in the majority of patients. The fact that this technique, using slow potential as an electrophysiologic marker, was successful in all patients, with very few recurrences and with no serious complications (no II or III degree atrioventricular block) makes it trustworthy and safe.