The Natural History of Asymptomatic Ventricular Pre-Excitation. A Long-Term Prospective Follow-Up Study of 184 Asymptomatic Children

Vincenzo Santinelli, Andrea Radinovic, Francesco Manguso, Gabriele Vicedomini, Simone Gulletta, Gabriele Paglino, Patrizio Mazzone, Giuseppe Ciconte, Stefania Sacchi, Simone Sala, Carlo Pappone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe the natural history of asymptomatic ventricular pre-excitation in children and to determine predictors of potentially life-threatening arrhythmic events. Background: Sudden death can be the first clinical manifestation in asymptomatic children with ventricular pre-excitation, but reduction of its incidence by prophylactic ablation requires the identification of subjects at high risk. Methods: Between 1995 and 2005 we prospectively collected clinical and electrophysiologic data from 184 children (66% male; median age 10 years; range 8 to 12 years) with asymptomatic ventricular pre-excitation on the electrocardiogram. After electrophysiologic testing, subjects were followed as outpatients taking no medications. The primary end point of the study was the occurrence of arrhythmic events. Predictors of potentially life-threatening arrhythmias were analyzed. Results: Over a median follow-up of 57 months (min/max 32/90 months) after electrophysiologic testing, 133 children (mean age 10 years; range 8 to 12 years) did not experience arrhythmic events, remaining totally asymptomatic, while 51 children had within 20 months (min/max 8/60 months) a first arrhythmic event, which was potentially life-threatening in 19 of them (mean age 10 years; range 10 to 14 years). Life-threatening tachyarrhythmias resulted in cardiac arrest (3 patients), syncope (3 patients), atypical symptoms (8 patients), or minimal symptoms (5 patients). Univariate analysis identified tachyarrhythmia inducibility (p <0.001), anterograde refractory period of accessory pathways (APERP) ≤240 ms (p <0.001), and multiple accessory pathways (p <0.001) as risk factors for potentially life-threatening arrhythmic events. Independent predictors by multivariate analysis were APERP (p = 0.001) and multiple accessory pathway (p = 0.001). Conclusions: These findings are potentially relevant in terms of early identification of high-risk asymptomatic children with ventricular pre-excitation. Subjects with short APERPs and multiple pathways are at higher risk of developing life-threatening arrhythmic events and are the best candidates for prophylactic ablation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-280
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 20 2009


  • catheter ablation
  • sudden death
  • syncope
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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