Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine

, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 377-385

First online:

Catheter ablation of ventricular tachycardia

  • Sean P. TierneyAffiliated withCardiovascular Institute, Loyola University Medical Center
  • , David J. WilberAffiliated withCardiovascular Institute, Loyola University Medical Center

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Opinion statement

Most patients with ventricular tachycardia (VT) associated with structural heart disease should receive an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator as initial therapy. Patients with symptomatic recurrences of tachycardia, including those with multiple defibrillator shocks, are considered for ablation. The vigor with which antiarrhythmic drug therapy is pursued as antecedent therapy to ablation depends on patient factors (eg, medical comorbidity, type of heart disease, number and hemodynamic tolerance of tachycardias) and the previous history of antiarrhythmic drug exposure (eg, side effects, inefficacy). In patients with mild left ventricular dysfunction and well-tolerated tachycardia, ablation may be offered as primary definitive therapy in selected individuals. In patients without structural heart disease, ablation is usually offered as primary definitive therapy to highly symptomatic patients, and is strongly recommended for patients with recurrent tachycardia following initial attempts at drug suppression. Optimal outcome of VT ablation depends on the availability of an experienced team and sophisticated facilities to accommodate the technical challenges associated with the broad spectrum of clinical presentations and arrhythmia mechanisms. Historically, major complications have been reported in up to 10% of patients, including death, stroke, cardiac tamponade, complete heart block, and myocardial infarction. In our own experience with VT ablation over the past 10 years, major complications occurred in three (1.8%) of 168 patients with structural heart disease and one (0.7%) of 142 patients without structural heart disease.