Optimal contact forces to minimize cardiac perforations before, during, and/or after radiofrequency or cryothermal ablations

Stephen G. Quallich, Michael Van Heel, Paul A. Iaizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background Catheter perforations remain a major clinical concern during ablation procedures for treatment of atrial arrhythmias and may lead to life-threatening cardiac tamponade. Radiofrequency (RF) ablation alters the biomechanical properties of cardiac tissue, ultimately allowing for perforation to occur more readily. Studies on the effects of cryoablation on perforation force as well as studies defining the perforation force of human tissue are limited. Objective The purpose of this study was to investigate the required force to elicit perforation of cardiac atrial tissue after or during ablation procedures. Methods Effects of RF or cryothermal ablations on catheter perforation forces for both swine (n = 83 animals, 530 treatments) and human (n = 8 specimens, 136 treatments) cardiac tissue were investigated. Results Overall average forces resulting in perforation of healthy unablated tissue were 406g ± 170g for swine and 591g ± 240g for humans. Post-RF ablation applications considerably reduced these forces to 246g ± 118g for swine and 362 ± 185g for humans (P <.001). Treatments with cryoablation did not significantly alter forces required to induce perforations. Decreasing catheter sizes resulted in a reduction in forces required to perforate the atrial wall (P <.001). Catheter perforations occurred over an array of contact forces with a minimum of 38g being observed. Conclusion The swine model likely underestimates the required perforation forces relative to those of human tissues. We provide novel insights related to the comparative effects of RF and cryothermal ablations on the potential for inducing undesired punctures, with RF ablation reducing perforation force significantly. These data are insightful for physicians performing ablation procedures as well as for medical device designers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-296
Number of pages6
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • Arrhythmia
  • Cardiac perforation
  • Cardiactamponade
  • Catheter ablation
  • Cryoablation
  • Radiofrequencyablation


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