Chronic transmural atrial ablation by using bipolar radiofrequency energy on the beating heart

Sunil M. Prasad, Hersh S. Maniar, Richard B. Schuessler, Ralph J. Damiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Background: Recently, there has been renewed interest in the development of minimally invasive procedures to treat atrial fibrillation. Unipolar radiofrequency catheters are plagued by poor results, in part because of their inability to produce transmural lesions. This study tested the ability of bipolar radiofrequency energy to create chronic transmural lesions on the beating heart that isolated atrial myocardium. Methods: Five sheep underwent a right thoracotomy. Baseline pacing was performed from the following targeted areas: right atrial appendage, superior vena cava, inferior vena cava, and right pulmonary veins. A cuff of atrial myocardium around the targeted tissue was clamped between the 2 arms of the device. Radio-frequency energy was delivered at 750 mA and continued until the tissue conductance between the electrodes reached a stable minimum level. After ablation, pacing was used to document tissue isolation. The animals survived for 30 days. Results: Twenty circumferential lesions were produced at the initial operation. The mean ablation time was 9.3 ± 4.0 seconds, and the mean peak temperature was 48.4°C ± 6.4°C. All lesions acutely and chronically isolated the targeted tissue. Trichrome staining showed that all lesions were transmural. There were no instances of pulmonary vein stenosis or thrombosis. Conclusions: Bipolar radiofrequency energy can produce permanent transmural linear lesions on the beating heart. Online measurement of tissue conductance reliably predicted lesion transmurality. This new technology may enable surgeons to perform a curative minimally invasive operation for atrial fibrillation on the beating heart.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-713
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002

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