OBJECTIVES: Visualizing myocardium with near field ultrasound (NFUS) transducers in the tip of the catheter might provide an image of the evolving pathological lesion during energy delivery.
BACKGROUND: Radiofrequency (RF) catheter ablation has been effective in arrhythmia treatment, but no technology has allowed lesion formation to be visualized in real time in vivo.
METHODS: RF catheter ablations were performed in vivo with the goal to create transmural atrial lesions and large ventricular lesions. RF lesion formation was imaged in real time using M-mode, tissue Doppler, and strain rate information from the NFUS open irrigated RF ablation catheter incorporating 4 ultrasound transducers (1 axial and 3 radial), and growth kinetics were analyzed. Nineteen dogs underwent ablation in the right and left atria (n = 185), right ventricle (n = 67), and left ventricle (n = 66). Lesions were echolucent with tissue strain rate by NFUS.
RESULTS: Lesion growth frequently progressed from epicardium to endocardium in thin-walled tissue. The half time of lesion growth was 5.5 ± 2.8 s in thin-walled and 9.7 ± 4.3 s in thick-walled tissue. Latency of lesion onset was seen in 57% of lesions ranging from 1 to 63.8 s. Tissue edema (median 25% increased wall thickness) formed immediately upon lesion formation in 83%, and intramyocardial steam was seen in 71% of cases.
CONCLUSION: NFUS was effective in imaging RF catheter ablation lesion formation in real time. It was useful in assessing the dynamics of lesion growth and could visualize impending steam pops. It may be a useful technology to improve both safety and efficacy of RF catheter ablation.