The creation of consistently transmural lesions with epicardial ablation on the beating heart has represented a significant challenge for current technology. This study examined the chronic performance of the AtriCure Coolrail device (AtriCure Inc, West Chester, Ohio), an internally cooled, bipolar radiofrequency ablation device designed for off-pump epicardial ablation. The study also examined the reliability of using acute intraoperative conduction delay to evaluate lesion integrity.Seven swine underwent median sternotomy. The right atrial appendage and inferior vena cava were isolated with a bipolar radiofrequency clamp. Linear ablation lines were created between these structures with the AtriCure Coolrail. Paced activation maps were recorded with epicardial patch electrodes acutely before and after ablation and after keeping the animals alive for 4 weeks. The conduction time across the linear ablation was calculated from these maps. The lesions were histologically evaluated with trichrome staining.Only 76% of cross-sections of Coolrail lesions were transmural, and only 1 of 12 ablation lines was transmural in every cross-section examined. Mapping data were available in 5 of the animals. Significant conduction delay was present after the creation of each line of ablation acutely; however, after 4 weeks, conduction time returned to preablation values, demonstrating lack of transmurality.The AtriCure Coolrail failed to reliably create transmural lesions. Although the Coolrail was able to create acute conduction delay, its failure to transmurally ablate the atrial myocardium left gaps along the length of the lesion, which resulted in neither chronic conduction block nor delay across any line of ablation.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2012.01.001
View details for Web of Science ID 000309111600020
View details for PubMedID 22305553
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3966079