Catheter Ablation of VT in Non-Ischaemic Cardiomyopathies: Endocardial, Epicardial and Intramural Approaches

Ashwin Bhaskaran, Roderick Tung, William G. Stevenson, Saurabh Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy (NICM) encompasses a heterogeneous group of disorders that includes genetic, idiopathic, post viral and inflammatory cardiomyopathies. NICM is associated with an increased risk of ventricular arrhythmias (VAs), namely in the form of ventricular tachycardia (VT). Although implanted cardiac defibrillators (ICD) may prevent sudden death from VA, NICM patients may suffer from recurrent symptoms and ICD therapies, and anti-arrhythmic drug side effects. Catheter ablation is highly efficacious in NICM, however poses unique challenges when compared to post myocardial infarction substrates. NICM substrates are fundamentally different in scar location, extent, and transmurality which results in variable electrophysiologic properties and less apparent ablation targets during sinus rhythm, compared to ischaemic cardiomyopathy. NICM substrates can be intramural and/or epicardial, posing challenges to accessibility, which likely accounts for the observed higher rates of arrhythmia recurrence following ablation. Substrate location is influenced by the underlying aetiology (inflammatory, genetic), and can be gleaned from a combination of unique 12-lead electrocardiogram VT patterns, distribution of late gadolinium enhancement on cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, and electroanatomic voltage mapping. With the high proportion of intramural substrate in NICM, novel techniques have become increasingly common in recent years, including sequential, simultaneous or bipolar ablation on opposite myocardial surfaces to achieve greater lesion depth; use of half normal saline for irrigation; use of a novel retractable needle within an endocardial catheter; and transcoronary/venous ethanol ablation to target more inaccessible regions. Epicardial approaches have also been improved in recent years, with advents such as the needle-in-needle technique to reduce the risk of pericardial bleeding and phrenic nerve displacement, and hybrid surgical approaches to facilitate epicardial access in the presence of adhesions. Non-invasive cardiac radiation holds promise for the future. This state-of-the-art review will summarise the incidence, mechanism, multimodal assessment and catheter ablation-based management of VA in NICM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-101
Number of pages18
JournalHeart Lung and Circulation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Catheter ablation
  • epicardial
  • Intramural
  • Nonischaemic cardiomyopathy
  • Ventricular tachycardia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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