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J Interv Card Electrophysiol. 2000 Jun;4(2):415-21.

Accuracy of fluoroscopic localization of the Crista terminalis documented by intracardiac echocardiography.

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Electrophysiology Section, Allegheny University Hospitals-MCP and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The crista terminalis is an important anatomic target for ablation of atrial arrhythmias. We determined the accuracy of catheter placement guided by fluoroscopy alone when directed to 24 sites along the crista terminalis in 6 patients. The sites selected included the most medial superior, most lateral superior, mid lateral, and most inferolateral sites along the crista terminalis in each patient. These sites were selected because of their recognized importance in sinus node and/or atrial tachycardia ablation and the importance of avoiding caval structures when targeting the most superior and/or inferior right atrium. The position of the catheter tip was documented using a catheter based ultrasound transducer in the right atrium or vena cava. The operator was blinded to the intracardiac echocardiographic (ICE) results until reviewing the images after the procedure in each patient. The catheter tip, guided by fluoroscopy alone, was identified by ICE to be within the right atrium and within 1cm of the crista terminalis at only 10 of the 24 sites (42%). Importantly, when targeting the most superior and inferior sites along the crista terminalis, the catheter tip, guided by fluoroscopy, was noted to be adjacent to the venous junction with the right atrium but actually located in the superior or inferior vena cava at 5 of the 18 such sites. The catheter was positioned appropriately (within 1 cm of the crista and within the right atrium) guided by fluoroscopy alone when targeting 1 of the 12 sites in the first 3 patients versus 9 of 12 sites in the last 3 patients, p<0.05. In conclusion, it appears that using fluoroscopic guidance alone: 1) localization of the crista terminalis is frequently inaccurate and 2) catheter positioning in the superior/inferior vena cava is commonly noted when targeting very superior and inferior sites along the crista terminalis. A learning curve, assisted by review of ICE recordings after each procedure, appears to improve the accuracy of catheter placement by fluoroscopy alone but still does not result in uniform success. ICE appears to facilitate and ensure accurate targeting of specific anatomic sites along the crista terminalis and thus may serve as an important adjunctive imaging technique in electrophysiology.

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