BACKGROUND: Transvenous catheter ablation of atrioventricular nodal re-entrant tachycardia (AVNRT) with radiofrequency (RF) is effective and safe, but carries a 1-3% incidence of early and potentially late heart block. Cryothermy can create transient effects, and identify potentially successful ablation sites and decrease the risk for permanent heart block. METHODS: In this prospective, randomized trial 102 patients with recurrent narrow QRS-complex tachycardia suggestive of AVNRT were randomized to either RF or cryoablation before a diagnostic study. RESULTS: In 63 patients with AVNRT, 33 were randomized to RF and 30 to cryoablation. Procedural success was achieved, respectively, in 30 (91%) patients in the RF and 28 (93%) in the cryoablation group. The median number of cryothermal applications was significantly lower than the number of RF applications (2 versus 7, p<0.005). No accelerated junctional rhythm was seen with cryothermy, while it was present in 31/33 RF patients. Both fluoroscopy and procedural times were comparable. The radiological position of the successful site in relation to anatomical landmarks was slightly different (p<0.05). No cryothermy related complications were observed, and no permanent AV conduction disturbances occurred. During a mean follow up of 13+/-7 months long-term clinical success was seen in one additional patient in each group. In the same period, 3 patients in both groups experienced recurrent AVNRT. CONCLUSION: Cryoablation is as effective and safe as RF for AVNRT. Significantly fewer applications are necessary, with comparable procedure times. This makes cryothermy useful for the treatment of tachyarrhythmias near the compact AV node.

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European Heart Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kimman, G.-J., Theuns, D., Szili-Török, T., Scholten, M., Res, J., & Jordaens, L. (2004). CRAVT: a prospective, randomized study comparing transvenous cryothermal and radiofrequency ablation in atrioventricular nodal re-entrant tachycardia. European Heart Journal, 25(24), 2232–2237. doi:10.1016/j.ehj.2004.07.008