Heart Rate Variability and Atria Function in Children at Late Follow-Up Evaluation After Atrioventricular Node Slow-Pathway Radiofrequency Ablation
BACKGROUND Radiofrequency catheter ablation is standard treatment for children with re-entrant supraventricular tachycardias. Autonomic changes have been noted after such ablation for atrioventricular nodal re-entry tachycardia, but not as well documented with atrioventricular re-entry over an accessory pathway. METHODS AND RESULTS In 10 normal paediatric volunteers and 12 children referred for electrophysiologic testing and radiofrequency ablation of supraventricular tachycardia, non-invasive autonomic function tests and tilt-table testing were performed, and the variability in 24-h heart rate was analysed. Patients with supraventricular tachycardia underwent these tests both 24-72 h before and 24 h after ablation. Patients with tachycardia underwent additional autonomic testing to assess the sensitivity of baroreceptors and the intrinsic heart rate with autonomic blockade immediately before and after ablation. One non-invasive autonomic function test, namely handgrip, demonstrated significant differences (p < 0.05) in diastolic blood pressure before and after ablation, though these values did not differ from controls. Significant decreases were noted in two indexes of the variability of heart rate before and after ablation (p < 0.05). Certain tilt test variables also demonstrated significant differences between controls and those with tachycardia subsequent to ablation. Intracardiac testing demonstrated changes (p < 0.05) in sinus cycle lengths, effective refractory periods and/or blood pressures at baseline and during testing of the sensitivity of baroreceptors before and after ablation. These changes were consistent with increased sympathetic or decreased parasympathetic tone. With autonomic blockade, these differences were abolished. CONCLUSIONS Catheter ablation of accessory pathways in children was associated with changes consistent with increased sympathetic or decreased parasympathetic tone. These autonomic changes persisted 24 h after the ablation procedure.