Over 6 years, recurrent drug-refractory supraventricular arrhythmias were treated by electrophysiologically guided surgical procedures in 67 patients. There were 57 patients, age 10-72 years, with accessory pathways who had 61 operations. The perioperative mortality rate was 3.5%, with deaths occurring in two patients with complex problems. Four patients with multiple but one or more silent accessory pathways had successful reoperation, and modified surgical technique has eliminated this problem. All patients are free of arrhythmias 2-70 months after operation. The survival and primary cure rates were 100% for 36 patients with solitary accessory pathways. Eight patients, age 10-53 years, were operated on for atrial focal tachycardia. Right atrial cryothermic lesions without excision or cardiopulmonary bypass were used in four patients: local excision was used in two patients and combined procedures were used in two patients. Because of recurrence in two of four patients treated by isolated cryoablation, a new technique was applied subsequently to one of these patients and two other patients: wide atrial excision and PTFE patch replacement during cardiopulmonary bypass. All patients are free of arrhythmias at a follow-up of 9-72 months. Intractable atrial flutter or fibrillation occurred in 11 patients who had 15 attempts at transvenous A-V node electroshock ablation. In three patients in whom this failed, subsequent open cryoablation of the A-V node during cardiopulmonary bypass and epicardial pacemaker implantation were performed successfully. Two patients had A-V nodal modification for control of A-V nodal re-entry tachycardia: one patient with cryothermia at the time of ablation of atrial focal tachycardia and the other patient with sharp dissection at the time of accessory pathway division. Of the initial 67 patients, 65 (87%) survived operation and all were cured of their presenting arrhythmia. Surgery for drug-refractory supraventricular arrhythmias is safe and effective in selected cases.
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