Importance of atrial flutter isthmus in postoperative intra-atrial reentrant tachycardia

David P. Chan, George F. Van Hare, Judith A. Mackall, Mark D. Carlson, Albert L. Waldo

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157 Scopus citations


Background - In survivors of congenital heart surgery, intra-atrial reentrant tachycardia (IART) often develops. Previous reports have emphasized the atriotomy scar as the central barrier around which a reentrant circuit may rotate but have not systematically evaluated the atrial flutter isthmus in such patients. We sought to determine the role of the atrial flutter isthmus in supporting IART in a group of postoperative patients with congenital heart disease. Methods and Results - Nineteen postoperative patients with IART underwent electrophysiological studies with entrainment mapping of the atrial flutter isthmus for determining postpacing intervals. Radiofrequency ablation was performed at the identified isthmus in an effort to create a complete line of block. Twenty-one IARTs were identified in 19 patients, with a mean tachycardia cycle length of 293±73 ms. The atrial flutter isthmus was part of the circuit in 15 of 21 (71.4%). In the remaining 6 of 21, the ablation target zone was at sites near atrial incisions or suture lines. Ablation was successful in 19 of 21 (90.4%) IARTs and in 14 of 15 (93.3%) cases at the atrial flutter isthmus. Conclusions - In most of our postoperative patients, the atrial flutter isthmus was part of the reentrant circuit. The fact that the atrial flutter isthmus is vulnerable to ablation suggests that whenever IART occurs late after repair of a congenital heart defect, the atrial flutter isthmus should be evaluated. These data support the theory that some form of conduction block between the vena cava is essential for the establishment of a stable substrate for the atrial flutter reentrant circuit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1283-1289
Number of pages7
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 12 2000


  • Atrial flutter
  • Catheter ablation
  • Heart defects, congenital
  • Reentry


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