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Herz. 1998 Jun;23(4):209-18.

[Radiofrequency catheter ablation of atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation].

[Article in German]

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Medizinische Klinik I, Klinikum Grosshadern, Universit√§t M√ľnchen.


Radiofrequency catheter ablation is now considered as a curative approach in patients with typical atrial flutter. Typical atrial flutter is due to a macrore-entrant circuit within the right atrium and it can be eliminated by a linear lesion in the isthmus between the tricuspid annulus and the vena cava inferior. The electrophysiological criterion of a bidirectional isthmus block has been shown to reduce the recurrence rate of atrial flutter after catheter ablation, thus achieving long-term cure of typical atrial flutter. Acute success rates of 85 to 90% and recurrence rates of 10 to 15% have been reported. The risk of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation continues to be clinically relevant in patients who underwent successful ablation of atrial flutter, in particular in patients with previously documented atrial fibrillation. The incidence of a new onset of atrial fibrillation after ablation of atrial flutter seems to be approximately 20%. Isthmus ablation has also been shown to be beneficial for the majority of patients with typical atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation: In addition to an elimination of typical atrial flutter the isthmus ablation apparently reduces the incidence of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. At present, atrial fibrillation can only be treated by catheter ablation as a curative approach in the rare cases where an accessory pathway, an AV nodal re-entrant tachycardia, typical atrial flutter or an ectopic atrial tachycardia is the induction mechanism of the atrial fibrillation. The majority of patients with atrial fibrillation is apparently not amenable to a curative local ablation. While AV junction ablation and AV node modification can palliate some of the symptoms of atrial fibrillation by a control of ventricular rate, the arrhythmia persists with the loss of AV synchrony and continued risk of thromboembolism. The surgical MAZE procedure implies a compartimentation of the atria by surgical incisions resulting in areas to small to sustain the arrhythmia. Based on this procedure experimental and clinical studies are currently performed in order to develop catheter ablation cure of atrial fibrillation.

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