Recurrence of conduction in accessory atrioventricular connections after initially successful radiofrequency catheter ablation

Jonathan J. Langberg, Hugh Calkins, Youn Nyun Kim, João Sousa, Rafel El-Atassi, Angel Leon, Mark Borganelli, Steven J. Kalbfleisch, Fred Morady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to characterize the incidence and clinical features of accessory pathway recurrence after initially successful radiofrequency catheter ablation and to identify variables correlated with recurrence. Radiofrequency ablation was performed with a 7F deflectable tip catheter with a large (4 mm in length) distal electrode. Left-sided accessory patthways were approached through the left ventricle and right-sided pathways by way of the right atrium. Patients were included in the study if 1) they had an initially successful procedure, defined as the absence of accessory pathway conduction immediately after ablation, and 2) had undergone a 3-month follow-up electrophysiologic test or had documented recurrence of accessory pathway conduction. Accessory pathway conduction recurred after initially successful ablation in 16 (12%) of 130 patients. Almost half (7 of 16) of these recurrences were in the 1st 12 h after ablation, and the last occurred after 106 days. Return of delta waves on the electrocardiogram (ECG) or spontaneous paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia was the initial indication of recurrence in 15 of the 16 patients. Two patients with manifest accessory pathways exhibited recurrence with exclusively concealed accessory pathway conduction. Accessory pathways ablated from the tricuspid anulus (right free wall or septal accessory pathways) had a much higher recurrence rate (24%) than did those on the mitral anulus (6%). Fourteen of 15 patients have had successful repeat accessory pathway ablation after the initial recurrence. After a mean follow-up period of 4 ± 3 months, there have been no repeat recurrences of any of these accessory pathways. It is concluded that accessory pathway recurrence is infrequent after successful radiofrequency catheter ablation. All but one episode of recurrence was diagnosed clinically, suggesting that routine follow-up electrophysiologic testing in asymptomatic patients is not warranted. Because manifest accessory pathways may recur with retrograde conduction only, patients with palpitation after ablation should have electrophysiologic testing even if no delta waves are seen on the ECG. The success rate of ablation after recurrence (93%) is comparable to that achieved at the initial session, suggesting that return of accessory pathway function should not be a contraindication to a repeat attempt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1588-1592
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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