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Evolution of diagnostic and interventional cardiac electrophysiology: a brief historical review

  • Gregory K Feld
    Correspondence
    Address for reprints: Gregory K. Feld, MD, University of California–San Diego Medical Center, 200 West Arbor Drive, San Diego, California 92103
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Cardiac Electrophysiology Program, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
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      Abstract

      The field of clinical cardiac electrophysiology has evolved dramatically over the last 30 years, beginning with description of the first His bundle recording in 1969. Subsequently, in the early 1970s, more sophisticated diagnostic electrophysiologic techniques were developed to diagnose and guide drug treatment of arrhythmias. These diagnostic techniques were further advanced during the late 1970s and 1980s to electrically map arrhythmias and guide their surgical ablation. Surgical treatments of both supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias proliferated in the 1970s and 1980s, with overall excellent results. However, because of the morbidity and mortality associated with arrhythmia surgery, it was ultimately replaced in the 1990s by radiofrequency catheter ablation (RFCA) for treatment of most forms of supraventricular tachycardia and idiopathic ventricular tachycardia, and by the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for treatment of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias associated with coronary artery disease and dilated cardiomyopathy. At present, the only arrhythmias that cannot be reliably and safely cured by RFCA are chronic atrial fibrillation and life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. For chronic atrial fibrillation, new catheter designs are being developed to create linear ablation lines mimicking the curative MAZE operation. For life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias, the ICD has been increasingly utilized as transvenous lead systems and smaller devices have been developed. In the next millennium, new developments that may be expected for treatment of atrial fibrillation and life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias include catheter systems for linear RFCA of atrial fibrillation, ICDs for both atrial and ventricular defibrillation, and biventricular pacing ICDs for patients with congestive heart failure.
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