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@NEJM Ask the Authors & Experts: Noninvasive Cardiac Radiation for Ablation of Ventricular Tachycardia

Original Article

Noninvasive Cardiac Radiation for Ablation of Ventricular Tachycardia

Phillip S. Cuculich, M.D., Matthew R. Schill, M.D., Rojano Kashani, Ph.D., Sasa Mutic, Ph.D., Adam Lang, M.D., Daniel Cooper, M.D., Mitchell Faddis, M.D., Ph.D., Marye Gleva, M.D., Amit Noheria, M.B., B.S., Timothy W. Smith, M.D., D.Phil., Dennis Hallahan, M.D., Yoram Rudy, Ph.D., and Clifford G. Robinson, M.D.

December 13, 2017.

Recent advances have enabled noninvasive mapping of cardiac arrhythmias with electrocardiographic imaging and noninvasive delivery of precise ablative radiation with stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). We combined these techniques to perform catheter-free, electrophysiology-guided, noninvasive cardiac radioablation for ventricular tachycardia.

We targeted arrhythmogenic scar regions by combining anatomical imaging with noninvasive electrocardiographic imaging during ventricular tachycardia that was induced by means of an implantable cardioverter–defibrillator (ICD). SBRT simula- tion, planning, and treatments were performed with the use of standard tech- niques. Patients were treated with a single fraction of 25 Gy while awake. Efficacy was assessed by counting episodes of ventricular tachycardia, as recorded by ICDs. Safety was assessed by means of serial cardiac and thoracic imaging.

From April through November 2015, five patients with high-risk, refractory ventricular tachycardia underwent treatment. The mean noninvasive ablation time was 14 min- utes (range, 11 to 18). During the 3 months before treatment, the patients had a combined history of 6577 episodes of ventricular tachycardia. During a 6-week posta- blation “blanking period” (when arrhythmias may occur owing to postablation in- flammation), there were 680 episodes of ventricular tachycardia. After the 6-week blanking period, there were 4 episodes of ventricular tachycardia over the next 46 patient-months, for a reduction from baseline of 99.9%. A reduction in episodes of ventricular tachycardia occurred in all five patients. The mean left ventricular ejection fraction did not decrease with treatment. At 3 months, adjacent lung showed opaci- ties consistent with mild inflammatory changes, which had resolved by 1 year.

In five patients with refractory ventricular tachycardia, noninvasive treatment with electrophysiology-guided cardiac radioablation markedly reduced the burden of ven- tricular tachycardia. (Funded by Barnes–Jewish Hospital Foundation and others.)


 Originally Appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine on December 13, 2017.


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