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Mechanisms of Right Atrial Tachycardia Occurring Late After Surgical Closure of Atrial Septal Defects


  • This study was supported in part by a grant from the ARISC (Association pour la Recherche et l'Information Scientifique en Cardiologie), Nancy, France.

  • Manuscript received 3 November 2003; Revised manuscript received 4 January 2005; Accepted for publication 10 January 2005.

Address for correspondence: Isabelle Magnin-Poull, M.D., Department of Cardiology, University Hospital Nancy Allée du Morvan, 54511 Vandoeuvre lès Nancy, France. Fax: (33) 3 83 15 38 56; E-mail:


Introduction: In patients without structural heart disease, the most frequently occurring AT is the common atrial flutter. In patients with repaired congenital heart disease other mechanisms of AT may occur, due to the presence of an atriotomy that can provide a substrate for reentry. The aim of the present study was to identify the mechanisms of atrial tachycardia (AT) occurring late after atrial septum defect (ASD) repair, with the help of a three-dimensional electroanatomical mapping system.

Methods and Results: Twenty-two consecutive patients presenting with AT underwent complete electroanatomic mapping (CARTO®, Biosense Webster, Diamond Bar, CA) of spontaneously occurring and inducible right ATs. Complete maps of 26 ATs were obtained. Three tachycardia mechanisms were identified: single-loop macroreentrant atrial tachycardia (MAT) (n = 7), double-loop MAT (n = 18), and focal AT (n = 1). In all MATs, protected isthmuses were identified as the electrophysiological substrate of the arrhythmia, most frequently the cavotricuspid isthmus (CTI) (n = 24), and a gap between the inferior vena cava and a line of double potentials (n = 11). A mean number of 13.5 ± 2.1 radiofrequency applications were delivered to transect these critical parts of the circuit. During a follow-up of 25 ± 16 months the RF ablation was acutely successful in all patients. Thirteen patients (59%) had an early recurrence of MAT and needed an additional ablation procedure. One of those patients needed two additional ablation procedures.

Conclusions: Three-dimensional electroanatomic mapping is useful to identify postsurgical AT mechanisms; the CTI isthmus is involved in 92% MAT, and if the right atrial free wall (RAFW) abnormal tissue related to surgical scar is present this substrate contributes to the MAT circuit