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Initial and long-term evaluation of escape rhythm after radiofrequency ablation of the AV junction in 50 patients

, : Initial and long-term evaluation of escape rhythm after radiofrequency ablation of the AV junction in 50 patients. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology 19(11 Pt 2): 1988-1992

Between 1986 and 1994, 50 patients (mean age 63 +/- 13 years), 25 of whom had organic heart disease and presenting with atrial arrhythmias refractory to 5.6 +/- 1.6 antiarrhythmic drugs, underwent radiofrequency ablation (5 +/- 3 pulses by procedure; duration of pulses 50.5 +/- 32 s) of the proximal AV junction to create complete and permanent AV block. The escape rhythm was studied immediately after the procedure and during long-term follow-up. Immediately after the procedure, an escape rhythm was observed in 80% of the patients (junctional in 92%). Over a mean follow-up of 36 +/- 16 months in 47 patients (2 patients died before assessment of escape rhythm and 1 was lost to follow-up), an escape rhythm was present in 39 patients (83%) and absent in the remaining 8 (17%). The only significant difference between the two groups was the initial presence of an escape rhythm (P = 0.008). However, three patients with an initial escape rhythm had none during long-term follow-up. The initial presence of an escape rhythm as a predictive factor of its presence during follow-up had a sensitivity of 87%, specificity of 63%, positive predictive value of 92%, and negative predictive value of 50%. Thus, the absence of an escape rhythm during long-term follow-up causing pacemaker dependency was noted in 1 of 6 patients. This represents a limitation to this palliative treatment, which should be reserved for patients suffering from supraventricular tachycardias refractory to other treatments.


PMID: 8945083

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