Limitations and Pitfalls of Substrate Mapping for Ventricular Tachycardia

Elad Anter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The fundamental hypothesis of substrate mapping for scar-mediated ventricular tachycardia is that surrogates of the isthmus can be identified and targeted with ablation during sinus rhythm. These surrogates include electrocardiographic indications for electric discontinuity such as fractionation, split, late, and long potentials, also evident as sites displaying activation slowing. However, ablation strategies targeting these surrogates during sinus rhythm have resulted in unacceptably high rates of clinical failures, promoting the idea that a more widespread ablation may be required. High-resolution mapping technologies provide an opportunity to examine the substrate at greater detail; however, their use has not yet translated into improved clinical outcomes. This may be related to ongoing efforts to examine the same surrogates at higher resolution instead of using high-resolution technologies for discovering new and potentially more specific surrogates. This article reviews common limitations and pitfalls of substrate mapping and discusses new opportunities for high-resolution mapping to increase the accuracy of substrate mapping: 1) multielectrode mapping catheters provide an opportunity to rapidly examine the substrate during electrophysiological conditions that more closely simulate ventricular tachycardia by means of activation from different directions and coupling intervals; 2) electrogram annotation methods based on the maximal negative derivative of the extracellular potential or maximal voltage are often inaccurate in nonuniform anisotropic tissue. The use of multielectrode catheters may improve the accuracy of electrogram annotation by using spatiotemporal dispersion of single-beat acquisitions and a localized indifferent reference; and 3) resetting and entrainment remain important methods for studying re-entry for and guiding ablation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)542-560
Number of pages19
JournalJACC: Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Biosense Webster
Boston Scientific Corporation


    • ablation
    • electrophysiology
    • re-entry
    • substrate mapping
    • ventricular tachycardia


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