Safety profiles and lesion size of different radiofrequency ablation technologies: A comparison of large tip, open and closed irrigation catheters

Thomas H. Everett Iv, Ken W. Lee, Emily E. Wilson, Jose M. Guerra, Paul D. Varosy, Jeffrey E. Olgin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations


Safety Versus Lesion Size of Ablation Catheters Introduction: Different technologies have been developed for radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which include increasing electrode (tip) size and cooling the tip through irrigation either internally (closed-loop) with D5W or externally (open-loop) with saline. Although these catheters are widely used clinically, the propensity for adverse events and the lesion profiles of each of these catheter technologies have not been directly compared under a wide range of controlled conditions. Methods and Results: Freshly excised canine thigh muscle was placed in a chamber filled with circulating, heparinized blood heated to 37°C. Five different catheters were tested: 4 mm tip, 10 mm tip single thermistor, 10 mm tip multitemperature sensor, 4 mm closed-loop irrigated cooled-tip, and 4 mm open-loop irrigated cooled tip at several different contact and power settings. The catheter and tissue interface was continuously monitored with intracardiac echocardiography (echo) (Acuson). During the RFA, any bubbling generated from the tip and/or popping seen on echo was noted, and after each RFA, the catheter and lesion were examined for the presence of thrombus. For all of the catheters, complications correlated to the electrode tip temperature and power setting. All of the catheters experienced complications at any lesion size except for the open-irrigated catheter, which only had complications at the largest lesions. Overall, the cooled tip catheters experienced an at least sixfold greater odds of popping, bubbling, and impedance rises than the 4 mm, but the majority occurred at power levels greater than 20 W. The open-irrigated catheters created eccentric lesions that extended away from the tissue-catheter interface, in the direction of blood flow. In addition, it produced saline filled blisters at the lesion site in 16.7% of the burns. The 10 mm catheter had an at least twofold greater odds of thrombus, charring, and bubbling, but larger lesions than the 10 mm multitemperature sensor catheter. Conclusions: Catheter type, contact conditions, and power settings all play a role in lesion size and in the frequency of complications that occur during an RFA. Cooling the electrode tip, either internally or externally, does not prevent complications from occurring, especially at the higher power control settings. Adding more temperature sensors to the 10 mm seems to reduce the amount of complications that can occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-335
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of cardiovascular electrophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Catheter ablation
  • Radiofrequency
  • Thrombus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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