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Epicardial radiofrequency ablation is increasingly being used for intraoperative treatment of atrial fibrillation. However, the effect of different parameters on the lesion characteristics has not been sufficiently characterized. We used a finite element model to calculate the temperature distribution in the atrial tissue under different conditions during a constant voltage radiofrequency ablation. Our simulation results show that although in the case of a thin atrium the lesion was less deep for a thin atrium, it was easier to achieve transmurality. While considering a thinner atrium, the location of the hottest point of the lesion shifted from the electrode tip to epicardial surface. This effect was due to the convective cooling of the circulating blood inside the atrium. This convective cooling phenomenon has almost negligible effects for atria thicker than 3 mm. The variability of the cooling values has no significant effect on the lesion, even for thin atria (1-2 mm). Increasing the electrode insertion depth (ID) in the tissue produced larger lesions. However, for thinner atria (thickness <2 mm), this increase in the ID reduced the lesion width. It was also proved that the presence of a fat layer between the electrode and the atrial tissue decreased significantly the lesion dimensions.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2004