AMEN and ALARA – Remembering the dangers of the (new) technology of lesion formation


Catheter ablation in children has evolved to become a highly effective and safe therapy. Each iterative improvement in ablation technology provides another opportunity to investigate how much incremental benefit can be made without sacrificing safety. Contact force sensing catheters represent an example of such technology that has become commonplace in adult ablation. Its capability in predicting lesion size and collateral damage to critical structures has not been meticulously explored. Backhoff and colleagues describe an animal ablation model where they quantitate lesion characteristics at the atrium, atrioventricular groove, and ventricle using low and high contact force targets, with a specific focus on assessing for coronary arterial injury. In this controlled experiment, chronic lesion characteristics were widely variable (~0-8 mm diameter) yet there was a statistically significant (albeit small) increase in lesion diameter for high (vs low) contact force lesions delivered to the atrioventricular groove. The risk of chronic sub-clinical coronary artery injury was 1-2%. The remarkably weak association between contact force and lesion size suggests that delivery of clinical lesions needs to have both principles of As much as effectively needed (AMEN) and as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA), mirroring radiation exposure

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