Prevalence and characteristics of escape rhythms after radiofrequency ablation of the atrioventricular junction: results from the registry for AV junction ablation and pacing in atrial fibrillation. Ablate and Pace Trial Investigators

A B Curtis, S P Kutalek, M Prior, T T Newhouse
American Heart Journal 2000, 139 (1 Pt 1): 122-5

BACKGROUND: Radiofrequency ablation of the atrioventricular junction is a well-established procedure for the management of atrial fibrillation refractory to medical therapy. However, there are few data available on the prevalence and characteristics of the escape rhythms that are present after the procedure.

METHODS: The Ablate and Pace Trial was a prospective, multicenter registry of atrioventricular junction ablation and pacing in atrial fibrillation. Ablation of the atrioventricular junction was accomplished with radiofrequency energy with standard techniques. Before discharge from the hospital, patients underwent a systematic analysis of the rate and morphologic features of the escape rhythm, if any, that was present when the pacing rate was gradually decreased.

RESULTS: There were 156 patients from 16 centers who underwent attempted radiofrequency ablation of the atrioventricular junction. The procedure was successful in 155 (99%) of 156 patients. An escape rhythm was present in 104 patients (67%) after radiofrequency ablation. The escape rate ranged from 11 to 65 beats/min (mean 39 +/- 10 beats/min). Only 49 patients (31%) had an escape rate >/=40 beats/min. Of the 104 patients with an escape rhythm, 53 patients (51%) had a QRS that was unchanged from baseline. There was no correlation between the number of radiofrequency applications and the presence of an escape rhythm.

CONCLUSION: The majority of patients who undergo radiofrequency catheter ablation of the atrioventricular junction are pacemaker dependent after the procedure, as defined by lack of an escape rhythm or the presence of an escape rhythm that is <40 beats/min.

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