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Circulation. 1994 Dec;90(6):2804-14.

Radiofrequency ablation of atrial flutter. Efficacy of an anatomically guided approach.

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Hospital Cardiovasculaire et Pneumologique Louis Pradel, Lyon, France.



Previous reports have shown that radiofrequency ablation can terminate atrial flutter and prevent recurrences. However, different methods have been used, and the current experience remains limited. The objective of the present study was to determine the efficacy of radiofrequency ablation of atrial tissue in patients with atrial flutter using an anatomically guided approach.


We treated 22 patients aged 30 to 73 years. Atrial flutter was recurrent for a mean of 5 years despite the administration of multiple antiarrhythmic drugs. Radiofrequency current was directed to the atrial isthmus between the inferior vena cava and the tricuspid ring, regardless of the morphology of local electrograms. Radiofrequency energy was applied during typical atrial flutter in 12 patients, atypical atrial flutter in 2 patients, and successively both forms in 8 patients. In 19 patients, atrial flutter abruptly terminated. In 3 patients, atrial flutter persisted despite 37, 48, and 25 applications, respectively. Atrial recordings demonstrated that atrial flutter termination occurred as a consequence of conduction block at the site of radiofrequency energy application, regardless of the type of atrial flutter. The number of applications before termination ranged from 1 to 82 (mean, 32). Atrial flutter could no longer be induced in every case. There were no complications. During a 13-month mean follow-up, atrial flutter recurred in only 2 of the 19 patients who had a successful ablation. Four patients experienced chronic atrial fibrillation, and 2 of them returned to sinus rhythm with antiarrhythmic therapy.


Radiofrequency ablation of atrial flutter using anatomic guidance is feasible and effective. Further experience is needed to delineate its role as an alternative approach to the management of refractory atrial flutter.

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