- Since its introduction, percutaneous epicardial access is increasingly being performed to facilitate catheter ablation of ventricular tachycardias (VTs) with epicardial circuits, difficult cases of idiopathic VTs, focal atrial tachycardia, and accessory pathways that cannot be successfully targeted endocardially.1 A thorough understanding of the clinical anatomy and potential complications is vital in order to perform a safe procedure.2 In this article, we present the clinical anatomy related to epicardial access, the technique of performing a subxiphoid epicardial puncture, and various measures to prevent complications.
- Percutaneous epicardial access (Figs. 1A and 1B) has gained wide acceptance as an interventional technique to access the pericardial space. Since its initial description1 in targeting epicardial circuits of ventricular tachycardia (VT) in patients with Chagasic cardiomyopathy, percutaneous epicardial access and ablation has come to play an important role in interventional electrophysiology. This technique has been recognized as a vital addition to catheter ablation of certain cardiac arrhythmias and for the delivery of newer investigational devices such as epicardial suture ligation of the left atrial appendage.
- Lead extraction has grown from a “niche” procedure practiced by a select few individuals to a fairly widely disseminated technique. With the apparent increase in device infections, occluded veins and the need for device “upgrades,” more physicians are attempting to extract chronically implanted pacing and implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) leads. Unfortunately, obtaining training for this procedure is difficult outside of a training program at a center with a physician experienced in lead extraction.