Credits : Jayasree Pillarisetti, MD, Wallace Ray, Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, MD.
Bloch Heart Rhythm Center, Mid America Cardiology, University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, Kansas.
Corresponding Author : Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy MD, FACC, Director, Center for Excellence in Atrial
Fibrillation & EP Research, Bloch Heart Rhythm Center, Mid America Cardiology, University of Kansas Hospitals,
Kansas City, KS 66160.
vena cava (SVC) triggers constitute 6-8% of non-pulmonary vein (PV) foci that
initiate atrial fibrillation (AF) . Since SVC
cardiomyocytes originate from the right sinus horn they possess enhanced
automacity and after-depolarization leading to arrhythmogenicity .
In a recent study by Arruda et al. 12% of patients had SVC triggers and empiric
adjunctive isolation of SVC-right
atrium (RA) along with PV isolation resulted in higher long term
success rate than the group that underwent PVI alone. They demonstrated that
adjunctive isolation of SVC along with PVI is a safe and
feasible strategy for ablation of AF .
describe the case of a 64 year old with paroxysmal AF who continued to have
inducible AF despite antral isolation of all 4 PVs. Adenosine challenge (12 mg
IV) initiated AF with ectopy starting in the SVC. Complete isolation of the SVC
after ruling out diaphragmatic stimulation resulted in independent firing from
the SVC that failed to conduct to the rest of the atrium (Figures-1A
Figure 1A:The circular mapping catheter and the ablation catheter in the SVC- atrial junction after isolation.
Figure 1B:This figure shows independent firing from the SVC (Lasso 1-10) that fails to conduct to the rest of the atria, after isolating the SVC-RA junction.
SVC - RA junction isolation can be very easily performed by parking the
circular mapping catheter (either the spiral or the Lasso) at the confluence of
the sagital section of the SVC and the cross sectional junction of the right
pulmonary artery and pulmonary vein. This helps as a landmark to identify the
SVC-RA junction. Once the circular catheter is parked at the junction, double
potentials are identified along the circumference. Pacing at 20 mA along the
posterolateral/lateral/anterolateral aspects of the junction is performed to
rule out diaphragmatic stimulation. In the event of positive diaphragmatic
stimulation, radiofrequency ablation should be avoided along the lateral
segments and application should be restricted to the septal segments alone. If
no diaphragmatic stimulation is noted complete isolation should be attempted.
Some times a triggered focus can be present right at the SVC-RA junction, in
which case ablation of the trigger itself could be curative. In our patient, the
trigger was at least 1cm above the SVC-RA junction and therefore ablation of
the specific trigger was not performed. 3D mapping can be used for accurate
localization of a trigger focus if complete isolation is not possible.
In 1992 Hashiba et al. described the differential distribution of fractionated
electrograms in the right atrium in patients with a sick sinus. Patients with
sick sinus and paroxysmal AF had widespread distribution of fractionated
electrograms whereas those with sick sinus and tachycardia had abnormal
electrograms localized to the high right atrium . In our
patient we did not see any abnormally prolonged and fractionated right atrial
electrograms at the high right atrium.
SVC stenosis, transient diaphragmatic paralysis and sinus node injury are known
uncommon complications of SVC isolation . SVC stenosis has
been reported following extensive ablation for inappropriate sinus tachycardia.
However, stenosis following SVC isolation during AF ablation has not been
reported . Sinus node injury is uncommon although one case
has been reported following serial ablations . Incidence
of phrenic nerve injury can be up to 0.48% and can occur with any form of
energy delivery (radio frequency, ultrasound, laser or cryo) [8, 9]. Sacher F et al. reviewed the characteristics of phrenic
nerve injury described in several studies. Dyspnea is the most common symptom
and post ablation pneumonia or pleural effusion may occur. Transient
hemi-diaphragmatic paralysis occurs which can last for a mean duration of 7
months. Pulmonary rehabilitation may be beneficial in these patients. This injury
can be prevented by prior pacing with maximum output from the lateral aspects
of SVC to rule out diaphragmatic stimulation. Occurrence of cough or hiccups
during the ablation should prompt immediate termination of energy application
to prevent further injury . More recently, a novel cryo
mapping technique was used by Dib C et al. to successfully ablate the
arrhythmogenic substrate at the SVC-RA junction without phrenic nerve injury . In this method, despite phrenic nerve stimulation on
pacing 4cm into the SVC, cryo energy is initially delivered at -30oc,
a temperature at which reversible loss of conduction occurs. If diaphragmatic
capture continues, cryoablation at -70oc to -80oc is
carried out while ablation is terminated if diaphragmatic stimulation ceases.
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