Surgical ablation supplemented by ethanol injection for ventricular tachycardia refractory to percutaneous ablation


A combination of endocardial and epicardial approaches has improved the overall success rate of ventricular tachycardia (VT) ablation in patients with cardiomyopathy. However, the origins of some VTs are truly intramural or close to coronary arteries, which makes this combined strategy either prone to failure or too risky.


This observational study aimed to explore the feasibility and efficacy of direct epicardial ablation combined with intramural ethanol injection via surgical approach for inaccessible intramural VTs or VTs too close to coronary arteries.


In four canines ventricular lesions produced by direct epicardial injection of ethanol were assessed. Six consecutive patients with recurrent VT refractory to catheter endocardial and epicardial RF ablation and that remained inducible after surgical epicardial mapping and RF ablation were included. Ethanol was injected by needle at the epicardial RF ablation sites. The primary outcome was freedom of sustained VT determined by device interrogation and periodical 24-h holter recordings subsequently.


In an animal study, the lesions were homogenous and increased in size with the volume of ethanol injected. In all six patients, ethanol injection at the target sites in the anterior or lateral left ventricle abolished inducible VT. Over a median follow-up of 22 months (range, 6–65), all patients remained free of sustained VT. One patient died of pulmonary infection one year after the procedure.


A hybrid strategy of surgical ablation combined with intramural ethanol injection is feasible and effective in patients with multiple failed percutaneous ablation attempts.