Surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation with diathermy: an in vitro study

Lam, B-Khanh; Boodhwani, Munir; Veinot, John P.; Hendry, Paul J.; Mesana, Thierry G.
March 2005
European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery;Mar2005, Vol. 27 Issue 3, p456
Academic Journal
Abstract: Objective: The utilization of diathermy (electrocautery) as an energy source in the treatment of chronic atrial fibrillation has generated positive early clinical results. Although this technology is available and affordable, it has not been well studied for this indication. The objectives of this study were: (1) to characterize atrial lesions created by diathermy, (2) to determine relationships between power setting, tissue contact time, and lesion depth and (3) to histologically compare diathermy and unipolar radiofrequency lesions. Methods: Fresh bovine atrial tissue samples were used to create endocardial lesions using a unipolar diathermy system with a blade tip. A total of 120 lesions were created at varying power settings and tissue contact times. Subendocardial temperatures were recorded. All lesions were examined grossly, then fixed, sectioned and evaluated histologically by a blinded pathologist. Comparisons were made with saline irrigated unipolar radiofrequency lesions. Results: Gross examination revealed extensive tissue destruction of the endocardial surface at the point of contact. Histological examination showed minimal penetrance of the lesions beyond the destroyed tissue margin of the endocardium. This was corroborated by the finding of minimal thermal penetration beyond the endocardium and superficial myocardium. There was a linear relationship between the power setting (15–55watts), depth of penetrance (2–15mm) at varying contact times (1–5s/cm). Conclusions: In this in vitro model, lesions created by diathermy were not transmural, even with high power settings and prolonged contact times. At these settings, significant tissue destruction was observed that may predispose to atrial perforation without achieving penetration. Diathermy did not constitute an effective energy source in the creation of transmural lesions for atrial fibrillation ablation.


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