Surgical treatment of automatic atrial tachycardias

Paul J. Hendry, Douglas L. Packer, Mark P. Anstadt, Mark D. Plunkett, James E. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


From 1979 to 1989, 18 patients were seen in the Electrophysiology Service, Duke University Medical Center, with automatic atrial tachycardia. There were 8 male and 10 female patients with a mean age of 28.1 ± 2.9 years. Electrophysiological mapping localized automatic foci to right atrial sites (14 patients) and left atrial sites (4 patients). Depending on origin of the focus, patients were further diagnosed as having either chronic ectopic atrial tachycardia or inappropriate sinus tachycardia. Of the 15 patients with chronic ectopic atrial tachycardia, 6 responded to medical treatment; in 9, the tachycardia was not adequately controlled. Six of them were referred for surgical intervention. All 3 patients with inappropriate sinus tachycardia underwent operative therapy. In the surgical group of patients with chronic ectopic atrial tachycardia, all 6 had a tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy with ejection fractions ranging from 14% to 27% (mean ejection fraction, 21% ± 2.7%). Surgical techniques used (alone or in combination) included an isolation procedure in 1 patient, cryoablation in 4 patients, and excision of atrial appendages or portions of atrial free walls in 7. Normal sinus rhythm developed in all surgical patients except 1 patient who had intractable congestive heart failure preoperatively and died of this condition and stroke. The overall success rates for medical and surgical therapy were 33.3% and 88.9%, respectively (p < 0.01). Long-term follow-up was possible for 7 (87.5%) of 8 patients 3 to 7 years after operation. All patients with chronic ectopic atrial tachycardia were cured, but only 1 of 3 patients with inappropriate sinus tachycardia was in sinus rhythm. Compared with patients with chronic ectopic atrial tachycardia, those with inappropriate sinus tachycardia are often not cured by surgical intervention. These data show that for patients with drug-refractory automatic atrial tachycardia, surgery provides an effective and safe treatment. Because uncontrolled automatic atrial tachycardia frequently results in a dilated cardiomyopathy, early surgical intervention is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-260
Number of pages8
JournalThe Annals of thoracic surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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