Epicardial mapping and ablation via a percutaneous subxiphoid technique has been instrumental in improving the working understanding of complex myocardial scars in various arrhythmogenic substrates. Endocardial ablation alone may not be sufficient in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and Chagas disease to prevent recurrent ventricular tachycardia. Multiple observational studies have demonstrated greater freedom from recurrence with adjunctive epicardial ablation compared with endocardial ablation alone. While epicardial ablation is performed predominantly at tertiary referral centers, knowledge of the technical approach, clinical indications, and potential complications is imperative to maximizing clinical success and patient safety.
In 1996, Sosa and colleagues modified the pericardiocentesis technique to enable percutaneous access to the pericardial space for mapping and catheter ablation of ventricular tachycardia.1 Originally developed for patients with epicardial scarring due to chagasic cardiomyopathy and patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy refractory to endocardial ablationm,2,3 this approach has since become an essential part of the armamentarium for the treatment of ventricular tachycardia. Myocardial scars are three-dimensionally complex with varying degrees of transmurality, and the ability to map and ablate the epicardial surface has contributed to a greater understanding of scar-related VT in postinfarction cardiomyopathy and nonischemic substrates including idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and chagasic cardiomyopathy. In this review, we highlight the percutaneous approach and discuss clinical indications and potential complications.