[Supraventricular tachycardia in infants, children and adolescents: diagnosis, drug and interventional therapy]

T Paul, H Bertram, T Kriebel, B Windhagen-Mahnert, J Tebbenjohanns, G Hausdorf
Zeitschrift Für Kardiologie 2000, 89 (6): 546-58
Supraventricular tachycardias are the most frequent forms of symptomatic tachyarrhythmias in infants, children and adolescents. Clinical symptoms depend on age and underlying cardiac anatomy. Newborn babies and infants with paroxysmal atrioventricular reentrant tachycardias usually present with signs of congestive heart failure due to rapid heart rate. In older children and adolescents, palpitations are the leading symptom. Patients with chronic-permanent tachycardias (i.e., atrial ectopic tachycardia, permanent form of junctional reciprocating tachycardia) often develop a secondary form of dilated cardiomyopathy, the so-called "tachymyopathy". Adenosine has evolved as the drug of choice in any age group for the termination of atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia of any origin. In addition, it serves as a diagnostic tool in primary atrial tachycardias. Long-term management of atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia in infancy and childhood is age dependent. In newborn babies and infants, pharmacological therapy is advised due to the high spontaneous cessation rate of those tachycardias at the end of the first year of life. In contrast to this, the probability of spontaneous cessation of tachycardia in children > 1 year of age is very low. Therefore, radiofrequency catheter ablation of the anatomical substrate of the tachycardia is a rational alternative to long-lasting antiarrhythmic therapy. Results in children with a structurally normal heart are comparable to those achieved in adults. In patients with congenital heart disease and supraventricular tachycardias, catheter ablation during preoperative cardiac catheterization is recommended. Atrial reentrant tachycardias have been identified as one major risk factor for late postoperative morbidity and mortality in young patients. Pharmacological therapy is often not sufficient to control the tachycardia. In addition, underlying sinus node dysfunction may be aggravated in a considerable portion of the patients affected. Catheter ablation based on conventional endocardial mapping techniques by multipolar electrode catheters with the aim of identifying the critical region of the reentrant circuit is associated with an impaired success rate and a considerable recurrence rate. It may be assumed that, using the modern mapping techniques currently available (electroanatomical mapping and non-contact mapping), results of radiofrequency catheter ablation of atrial reentrant tachycardias after surgical correction of congenital heart disease will be significantly improved within the next few years.


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