What is the best method for assessing the long-term outcome of surgery for accessory pathways and atrioventricular junctional reentrant tachycardias?
The success of surgery for supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is evaluated by a variety of methods in different hospitals. Unfortunately, the predictive values of these methods are not known. We therefore compared the various methods in 261 patients undergoing surgery for SVT at Westmead Hospital since 1981. Surgical outcome was assessed by early tests during the first week after surgery (serial 12-lead electrocardiograms, telemetric monitoring of the electrocardiogram, and electrophysiological study performed using epicardial wires); later tests at 6 months after surgery (12-lead electrocardiograms and electrophysiological study); and symptomatic review done by telephone interview at a median of 34 months after surgery. Early tests were obtained in 97%, later tests were obtained in 76%, and symptomatic review was obtained in 98% of patients. All of the examined tests were inaccurate methods of surgical assessment compared with the late electrophysiological study. A large proportion of the patients proven to be surgical failures at the late electrophysiological study were not detected by early tests (83%), by later electrocardiograms (66%), or by symptomatic assessment (41%). Accurate assessment of surgical outcome requires a late electrophysiological study to permit comparison of surgical techniques. Late electrophysiological study also provides accurate information on the current risks and benefits of proposed surgery for communication to patients to enable them to make an informed decision on future treatment. Most patients are willing to have a late electrophysiological study and usually benefit from clarification of their true surgical outcome.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association