Perinodal cryosurgery for atrioventricular node reentry tachycardia in 23 patients

J. L. Cox, T. B. Ferguson, B. D. Lindsay, M. E. Cain, G. Guiraudon

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32 Scopus citations


Atrioventricular node reentry tachycardia is the most common cause of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. Available nonpharmacologic therapies include (1) catheter ablation or cryosurgical ablation of the His bundle and insertion of a permanent pacemaker and (2) surgical dissection around the atrioventricular node or discrete cryosurgery of the perinodal tissues, in an attempt to divide or ablate only one of the dual atrioventricular node conduction pathways responsible for the tachycardia while leaving the other intact. This report describes 23 consecutive patients who underwent the discrete cryosurgical procedure between August 13, 1982, and March 16, 1989. The first patient in this series, a 38-year-old woman, is the fist patient in whom refractory atrioventricular node reentry tachycardia was cured surgically by a procedure designed to treat this arrhythmia. The ages of the 13 female and 10 male patients ranged from 12 to 56 years with an average of 29 years. Fourteen of the 23 patients (61%) had the Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome. Other associated arrhythmias included atrial flutter/fibrillation (n = 2), right atrial reentrant tachycardia (n = 1), junctional tachycardia (n = 1), and a Mahaim fiber (n = 1). Associated anatomic abnormalities included Ebstein's anomaly in two patients and a large right atrial aneurysm in one patient. The perinodal cryosurgical procedure was performed through a right atriotomy in the normothermic beating heart. Multiple 3 mm diameter cryolesions were placed around the borders of the triangle of Koch on the lower right atrial septum to alter the input pathways of the atrioventricular node. There were no operative deaths in this series of patients. Postoperatively, all 23 patients had normal atrioventricular conduction, and no heart block has occurred in any patients during the follow-up period. All patients have remained free of atrioventricular node reentry tachycardia (and of the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome) and one has required postoperative antiarrhythmic drugs for either of these arrhythmias. We consider this simple, safe, easily performed, and uniformly successful operation to be the procedure of choice for the treatment of medically refractory atrioventricular node reentry tachycardia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-450
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990


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