Successful surgical excision of focal paroxysmal atrial tachycardia. Observations in vivo and in vitro.
A 41-year-old man had chronic, recurrent, drug-resistant paroxysmal right atrial tachycardia. Electrophysiologic studies revealed features suggesting atrial reentrance, including induction and termination of tachycardia with rapid atrial pacing and atrial extrastimuli. Endocardial catheter mapping localized the origin of tachycardia to the right atrial appendage. Intraoperative epicardial mapping refined the localization to the posterolateral rim of the appendage. The appendage was excised and the tachycardia was permanently cured. Microelectrode studies on the excised tissue revealed an inducible rhythm localized to a small area of the atrial endocardium, characterized by rapid pacing induction, rhythmicity generated from a suprathreshold afterdepolarization, low maximum diastolic potential, low overshoot potential and a smooth transition from phase 4 to phase 0, suggesting triggered automaticity. This is the first observation in man of probable triggerable atrial automaticity, which may be a direct counterpart of the clinical arrhythmia. The successful surgical outcome indicates that a focal atrial tachycardia can be excised in selected patients.
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