Percutaneous cardiopulmonary support for catheter ablation of unstable ventricular arrhythmias in high-risk patients

Corrado Carbucicchio, Paolo Della Bella, Gaetano Fassini, Nicola Trevisi, Stefania Riva, Francesco Giraldi, Francesca Baratto, Giancarlo Marenzi, Erminio Sisillo, Antonio Bartorelli, Francesco Alamanni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Purpose: : In patients with severe cardiomyopathy, recurrent episodes of nontolerated ventricular tachycardia (VT) or electrical storm (ES) frequently cause acute heart failure and cardiac death; the suppression of the arrhythmia is therefore lifesaving, but feasibility of catheter ablation (CA) is precluded by the adverse hemodynamic conditions together with the characteristics of the arrhythmia that interdicts efficacious mapping. The use of the percutaneous cardiopulmonary support (CPS) for circulatory assistance may allow patient's stabilization and enhance efficacy and safety of CA in this emergency setting. Patients and Methods: : 19 patients (19 males; mean age 61 ± 6 years; chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy, eleven patients; primary dilated cardiomyopathy, six patients; arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/ cardiomyopathy, two patients) with recurrent nontolerated VT episodes undergoing CPS-assisted CA were retrospectively evaluated. Twelve patients had acute hemodynamic failure refractory to inotropic agents and ventilatory assistance, seven patients had undergone a failing nonconventional CA procedure. 14 patients presented with ES, and in twelve the procedure was undertaken under emergency conditions within 24 h from admission. Patients were ventilated under general anesthesia and assisted by a multidisciplinary team. The CPS system consisted in a Medtronic Bio-Medicus centrifugal pump and in a Maxima Plus oxygenator, a 15-F arterial cannula, and a 17-F venous cannula. Results: : Flows between 2 and 3 l/min were activated after induction of 56/62 forms of nontolerated VT, achieving hemodynamic stabilization in all patients. CA was mainly guided by conventional activation mapping and was effective in abolishing 45/56 supported VTs; in 10/19 patients all clinical VTs were suppressed by CA. Mean procedural time was 4 h and 20 min. Complete stabilization was achieved in 13 patients (68%) without VT recurrence during a 7-day in-hospital monitoring. A significant clinical improvement was observed in two patients (11%); one patient (5%) with persistent VT episodes acutely died after heart transplant. At a mean follow-up of 42 months (range 15-60 months), 5/18 patients (28%) were free from VT recurrence, 7/18 (39%) had a clear clinical improvement with reduced implantable cardioverter defibrillator interventions. 5/14 patients (36%) had ES recurrence; among them, three died because of acute heart failure. No serious CPS-related complications were observed. Conclusion: : The CPS warrants acceptable hemodynamic stabilization and efficacious mapping in highrisk patients undergoing CA for unstable VT in the emergency setting. Safety and efficacy of this technique translate into significant clinical improvement in the majority of patients. Even if only relatively invasive, CPS should be reserved to patients with ES or intractable arrhythmia causing acute heart failure; moreover, the need for an experienced team of multidisciplinary operators implies that its use is restricted to selected high-competency institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-552
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • Catheter ablation
  • Heart failure
  • Hemodynamic support
  • Ventricular Tachycardia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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