OBJECTIVE--To compare two new power sources for catheter ablation in patients with the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. DESIGN--120 consecutive patients with accessory pathways had catheter ablation. Low energy direct current (DC) was used in the first 60 patients and radio-frequency current in the next 60 patients. SETTING--Electrophysiological laboratory of a large heart institute. PATIENTS--72 men and 48 women (mean (SD) age 35 (14) years (range 9-75)). The accessory pathways were in the left free wall in 73 patients. They were posteroseptal in 35 patients, in the right free wall in five, and anteroseptal in seven. There was no significant difference in the clinical or electrophysiological variables between the two ablation groups. RESULTS--Catheter ablation with low energy direct current was successful in 55/60 patients (92%) and radiofrequency energy was successful in 52/60 patients (87%). Low energy direct current was also successful in four of the eight patients in whom radiofrequency ablation had failed. Radiofrequency ablation was successful in two of the five patients in whom low energy direct current ablation had failed. The mean (SD) procedure and fluoroscopy times for successful ablation were 3.2 (1.5) h and 61 (40) min respectively. These times were similar for both power sources. Accessory pathway conduction recurred in 17 patients (28%) who had low energy direct current and four patients (7%) who received radiofrequency energy (p < 0.004). All patients with recurrence of an accessory pathway had successful re-ablation. CONCLUSIONS--Both new power sources successfully ablated accessory pathways, (overall success rate 94% (113/120 patients)). Radiofrequency ablation, however, did not require general anaesthesia and was associated with a significantly lower rate of recurrence of accessory pathway conduction. Therefore radiofrequency should be used initially for ablation. Low energy direct current may be most useful as a back-up in patients in whom radiofrequency ablation fails.
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