A novel nonthermal energy source for surgical epicardial atrial ablation: Irreversible electroporation

Jacob Lavee*, Gary Onik, Paul Mikus, Boris Rubinsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. All currently used energy sources in surgical ablation for atrial fibrillation create lesions via thermal injury. We report for the first time the in vivo results of a new nonthermal modality of epicardial atrial ablation called irreversible electroporation (IRE). IRE utilizes a sequence of electrical pulses that produce permanent nonthermal damage to tissue in a few seconds with sharp borders between affected and unaffected regions. Methods. Five pigs underwent beating heart surgical epicardial ablations of their right and/or left atrial appendages, utilizing a sequence of 8, 16, or 32 direct current pulses of 1500 to 2000 V, 100 μs each, at a frequency of 5 per second, applied between two 4-cm long parallel electrodes with an IRE pulse generator. Local temperature measurements were performed during ablations followed by electrical isolation testing by pacing. Animal hearts were excised 24 hours after surgery and processed histologically to evaluate the degree of myocardial tissue necrosis and transmurality. Results. A clear demarcation line between ablated and normal tissue, with no tissue disruption or charring, was observed on gross inspection of all lesions. Staining results showed complete transmural destruction of atrial tissue at the site of the electrode application in all 10 atrial lesions, measuring a mean of 0.9 cm in depth. Each 3- to 3.5-cm long lesion was created in 1 to 4 seconds with no local temperature change and with demonstration of electrical isolation. Conclusions. We propose a new modality to perform atrial ablations, which holds the potential of providing very swift, precise, and complete transmurality with no local heating effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-101
Number of pages6
JournalHeart Surgery Forum
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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