Cryosurgery is one of three methods introduced recently for the treatment of ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Cryothermic exposure ablates arrhythmogenic ventricular myocardium, and produces a dense fibrous scar with a sharp border to histologically normal tissue. Myocardial blood flow in the region of the cryolesion, however, has not been quantitated. The purpose of this study was to measure regional blood flow within and around the cryolesion in an attempt to identify ischemic zones that might become arrhythmogenic. Left ventricular cryolesions were created in eleven adult dogs. Two weeks later, the animals underwent radioactive tracer microsphere injection for quantitation of regional myocardial blood flow. The fibrotic cryolesion demonstrated a significantly depressed blood flow (0.44 ± 0.07 ml/min/g) compared to blood flow in control tissue (1.36 ± 0.12 ml/min/g) (P < 0.001). A 1-mm strip of myocardium immediately adjacent to the cryolesion, as well as other myocardium surrounding and subjacent to the cryolesion, did not show a significant decrease in regional blood flow. The border between the fibrotic cryolesion and the surrounding myocardium is, therefore, sharply defined not only in terms of histology but also in regards to regional blood flow. These data lend further support to the safe clinical use of cryothermia in the treatment of refractory ventricular tachycardia.
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